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Massacre Survivor in Landmark Legal Win
A Chinese survivor of the notorious Nanjing Massacre has won a landmark legal battle in Tokyo - the first time any Japanese court has found in favor of victims of the atrocity.

Judges said 82-year-old Li Xiuying had been defamed by a book that accused her of falsifying her experience in the massacre.

The Tokyo District Court ordered Toshio Matsumura, author of "Big Doubts about the Nanjing Massacre" and the book's publishers to pay a total of 1.5 million yen (US$11,640) to Li, who the book said had falsely claimed to have survived the massacre.

About 80 percent of the total compensation was to pay for the mental damage suffered by the plaintiff, according to Su Xiangxiang, a member of the legal group representing Li.

But the ruling rejected Li's demand that the defendants publish apologies in major Japanese newspapers.

The ruling marks the first time Chinese survivors of the Nanjing Massacre have won a lawsuit in Japan.

Su praised the ruling, saying it not only rehabilitated Li's reputation but was also recognition by the Japanese court that the Nanjing Massacre had taken place.

Li's 1999 lawsuit said she barely escaped with her life after being stabbed repeatedly by Japanese soldiers as they rampaged through the city of Nanjing in December 1937 and cited a film of her in hospital taken by a foreign missionary.

According to the lawsuit, Li was married and pregnant when three Japanese soldiers came and wanted to rape her, and stabbed her for 37 times as she resisted, causing her to miscarry.

The lawsuit said Matsumura's book, which was published in late 1998, had defamed Li's character by saying she was faking her identity and falsely claiming to be the woman in the film.

Su and other lawyers for the plaintiff said the ruling dealt a "huge blow" to "groups that distort history."

"It is a very worthy ruling since it recognized a suitable compensation fee and that there was a defamation of Li's character," Hiroshi Oyama, who heads a group of lawyers representing Li, told a news conference.

Li's son, surnamed Lu, said his mother was pleased to learn of the court's decision and described it as a blow to right-wing politicians and writers in Japan.

Official statistics showed that as many as 300,000 civilians were killed by Japanese troops when they over ran the eastern city of Nanjing in December 1937 during Japan's invasion of China.

Many survivors of the invasion have filed lawsuits, seeking compensation and apologies from the Japanese Government for the pain they suffered.

Some of Japan's right-wing politicians and writers have said the massacre was fabricated by the Chinese, while others say only a fraction of the reported victims died.

Several Japanese prime ministers including incumbent Junichiro Koizumi have visited the Yasukuni Shrine where some Class-A war criminals of World War II were worshipped, which is regarded as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

The Chinese government has repeatedly urged Japanese leaders to adopt a "correct" attitude towards the aggression of China in the 1930s and 1940s and take concrete action to prove their commitment to this.

(People's Daily May 13, 2002)

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