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Hiroshima Memorial Honors Chinese Victims

May 31, 2006

TOKYO (AP) _ A national memorial for Hiroshima atomic bomb victims honored Chinese casualties for the first time Wednesday _ three men who were brought to Japan as slave laborers during World War II and exposed to searing radiation in the blast.

It marks the first time Chinese nationals have been registered at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for Atomic Bomb Victims, where victims from Korea, Brazil, the United States and Canada are also remembered, Japanese government official Kaori Fujiwara said.

Memorialized Wednesday were Lu Xuewen, who died in 2003 at age 82; Xu Lichuan, who died in 1992 at age 70; and Yang Xien, who was killed in the bombing at age 22, according to Fujiwara. All were brought to Japan as forced laborers in 1940.

``There were many Chinese victims, but most aren’t even remembered because they were forced to work here,″ Fujiwara said.

The memorial, based in the western city of Hiroshima, is a national repository for those who either died in the Aug. 6, 1945, nuclear attack, or were showered with deadly radiation in its aftermath. The memorial was established in 2002 and has only 13,853 names to date, compared with a larger list compiled by the city that honors 242,437 victims.

At the time of the bombing, the three Chinese men were in custody at police stations in Hiroshima for allegedly causing disruption at a power plant construction site outside the city, according to Fujiwara.

She said she does not have estimates of how many Chinese were in Hiroshima at the time of the attack.

During the closing days of World War II, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped its deadly payload over the city of 350,000. Officials estimate about 140,000 people died instantly or within a few months of the attack.

Three days later, on Aug. 9, another U.S. bomber, Bock’s Car, dropped a plutonium bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing about 80,000 people.

Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, bringing World War II to a close.

There are more than 285,000 survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima nuclear attacks, including 5,000 living abroad _ many of them Koreans or Chinese who were brought to Japan as soldiers or slave laborers after Tokyo’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula and invasion of the Chinese mainland.

To be registered at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall, a person must have been within 1.24 miles of ground zero at the time of the attack, or present in the city’s radiation zone two weeks afterward.

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