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WWII Comfort Station 'Should Be' Protected

A building in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, where sex slaves of World War II Japanese soldiers were stationed should be protected, says a cultural relics expert.

Remains like the comfort station in Nanjing, capital of the East China province, have historical and cultural value, said an expert with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage who insisted on anonymity.

Last week, news reports surfaced that the station could be demolished.

The comfort station, located on No 2 Liji Lane of Nanjing, was identified by Pak Yong-sim, a surviving "comfort woman" last November as the place where she lived while being held as a sex slave by Japanese soldiers.

The building is also considered one of the largest and best preserved in Asia.

The Nanjing municipal government has denied reports of the imminent demolition, but spokeswoman Xu Ning said the government has not come out with a specific plan to protect the remains.

"Such remains should be named as a site protected for their historical and cultural value, and be put under legal protection," said the cultural relics expert.

According to the Law on Protection of Cultural Relics, provincial and county departments can suggest specific buildings for the government to designate as historical and cultural sites.

The comfort station has not been identified as either.

The expert said there are nearly 10,000 provincial level historical and cultural sites and less than 100,000 county-level sites.

"Excluding such remains from the list can only prove one thing that the local government has not attached importance to the historical event of comfort women," he said.

The lot where the comfort station sits was listed by the municipal government as part of its reconstruction plan of Nanjing's old downtown, according to a report by China News Agency.

The report quoted Ju Tao, a senior Nanjing official, who said the reconstruction plan was made for the sake of people's safety, improving their living conditions and renewing the city's look as well.

Ju also stressed that Nanjing has always attached great importance to historical and cultural heritage, such as protection on the remains of the Nanjing Massacre (1937-38) in the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-45).

The municipal government has decided to give up on the demolition plan.

Jing Shenghong, a professor with Nanjing Normal University, and other researchers appealed to local cultural relics departments to have the remains designated as significant sites.

(China Daily June 12, 2004)


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