The Chinese government has made public what was previously a confidential trove of Japanese wartime documents, including some that give detail women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, this according to the country’s state-backed media. The publication of these documents comes during a time when Chinese courts have allowed individuals and groups to pursue lawsuits of war-related compensation from the Japanese government and some Japanese companies.
The items made public comprise mainly of 89 documents from archives in northern Jilin province, and they include letters written by Japanese soldiers, newspaper articles, and military files discovered in the early 1950s. More notably, these documents include Japanese records on “comfort women,” as well as details of the controversial Nanjing Massacre – both historical issues still being real thorns in the relations between Tokyo and Beijing to this day. China and South Korea have both been outraged at recent suggestions by conservative Japanese politicians that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should water down the 1993 apology that Japan made to comfort women.
China and Japan also disagree about the Nanking massacre. There are some fronts in Japanese politics claiming that the reports about the massacre have been exaggerated by China for propaganda purposes. Japan’s wartime records have been destroyed, and so official records of the historical event are hard to come by. The publication of these documents are sure to add to what is an already tense atmosphere between the two neighboring nations. Last week, Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd paid around US$29 million – as unresolved wartime compensation – for the release of one of their ships seized by China due to a dispute that dates back to the 1930s war between the two countries.