"Chinese people are my benefactors," said the 75-year-old Japanese orphan Sakai Michika, who lives in Tianjin city, north China.
As China and Japan are holding various activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic ties, Sakai said, "Japan's invasion into China separated me from my family. Then Chinese people nurtured me. I am so grateful for their kindness that I can never do enough in return."
Sakai came with her trader parents to Heihe city in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province in 1931. One day after Japan was defeated in World War II in 1945, she went home from her school in Harbin City, but only found an empty room and a note informing her of her parents' departure to Japan.
She was first shocked by the sudden departure, and then wondered what she could do alone in a foreign country at the age of 18. Later, she was informed of her parents' death soon after their return to Japan.
"The war left a wound that won't heal. I hate that war," she said.
Just at that moment she was feeling so helpless, she said, "The Chinese armed forces took me in and took good care of me, showing no discrimination against me although I am Japanese."
Later, Sakai studied Chinese language and culture, got a job and set up a family. After her first husband Yang Chunhe died in battle, she remarried to Liu Jingrui, and finally settled in Tianjin.
"I should follow the Chinese saying that one should repay the smallest kindness, not to mention the great care I received," she said.
The kind Chinese people lent a hand to her whenever she confronted hardship. In 1982, she was diagnosed stomach cancer and recovered after an operation. In 1990, Tianjin Mayor Zhang Lichang helped her son come to Tianjin from Inner Mongolia.
As an unofficial cancer spokeswoman, Sakai travels to hospitals and patients' homes, encouraging them to fight against cancer. She has made appeals to collect more money for cancer recovery.
"The Chinese people are the most trustworthy friends and partners of the Japanese people. I hope friendship between the two peoples will last forever," she said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2002)