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Massacre Victim Sues Japanese Writers

A Chinese survivor of the Nanjing Massacre lodged a lawsuit at Xuanwu District People's Court, in which she claimed she was defamed by two right-wing Japanese writers.

It is the first time a Chinese victim of the massacre has taken Japanese people to a Chinese court. The preliminary hearing began on Wednesday.

Xia Shuqin, the 75-year-old plaintiff and her two lawyers took part in the evidence exchange.

The defendants, Toshio Matsumura and Higaxinakano Naosumichi and the Japanese Teiunsya Corporation Limited, the book's publisher, did not attend the initial hearing nor did they hand in any evidence.

According to Guo Qiang, chief justice of the court, evidence exchange is between the plaintiffs and defendants.

The court served a summon to the plaintiff this June, and another to the defendants in April.

"The defendants did not attend the court, therefore giving up their right of evidence exchange," said Guo.

Xia was only eight years old when the Nanjing Massacre took place in December 1937, when as many as 300,000 Chinese were killed and many more abused by Japanese troops when they overran the city of Nanjing, then the capital.

Seven of Xia's family members were killed by Japanese soldiers on December 13, 1937.

"A Japanese soldier stabbed me in my left shoulder, left waist and back with his bayonet, I passed out because of the severe pain," Xia said.

When she regained consciousness, she found that only she and her four-year-old sister survived. They hid in a room full of dead bodies for 14 days, eating leftovers and drinking unboiled water. Later, they were sent to an old people's home by an elderly woman.

Their experiences were recorded in John Magee's film and the wartime diaries of John Rabe.

In 1998, the Japanese Teiunsya Corporation Limited published the books "Big Doubts about the Nanjing Massacre" and "Thorough Verification of the Nanjing Massacre."

The two books were compiled by Toshio Matsumura and Higxinakano Naosumichi respectively.

Matsumura wrote in his book that Xia was a false witness. "Xia Shuqin is not the eight-year-old girl in the massacre," he wrote.

Naosumichi raised similar doubts in his book. For example, "Why were only the two girls not killed?" And "The girl was seriously stabbed with a bayonet, how could she survive for 14 days?"

When hearing about these doubts through the media, Xia felt deeply hurt. She decided to take legal action and submitted to Nanjing Intermediate People's Court in November, 2000.

She raised five requests in the lawsuit - the defendants should stop their defaming behaviour at once; the defendants should restore her reputation, the defendants should apologize to her in the major newspapers of both Japan and China; the defendants should each pay compensation of 800,000 yuan (US$ 96,386); and the defendants should pay for the lawsuit.

The formal trial will be held on November 22 and 23.

(China Daily September 18, 2004)

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