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China “Indignant” At Japanese Legislators’ Claims over War

June 6, 1996

BEIJING (AP) _ China expressed ``strong indignation″ Thursday over claims by Japanese lawmakers that Japan did not force women in its military-run brothels to become prostitutes during World War II.

Seisuke Okuno, a former Japanese justice minister, asserted Tuesday that the women were engaging in ``commercial activity″ and weren’t forced to serve in the brothels.

Another Japanese legislator, Tadashi Itagaki, complained that some school textbooks ``one-sidedly explain that (Japan) forced teen-age girls to work as sex slaves, even though it’s not a historical fact.″

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said Thursday that Japan inflicted ``untold sufferings″ on China during the war and that forced prostitution was just one of its ``savage atrocities.″

Speaking at a regular briefing for reporters, Shen said the legislators were distorting history, ``and we are strongly indignant at that.″

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 Asian women, mostly Koreans, were forced into Japanese military brothels.

Both Itagaki and Okuno are members of a group of 116 Japanese legislators formed Tuesday that does not want the Japanese government to apologize for the war.

China abandoned its rights to seek government compensation when it established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1972. Beijing also has repressed non-government groups seeking compensation for victims.

But Shen said Thursday ``that the Japanese government should provide certain compensation.″

Japan has long refused to pay the women directly, saying compensation issues were settled by postwar treaties. It set up a private fund, financed by individual and corporate donations, as a substitute.

The fund decided Tuesday that each woman should get at least $18,300, but didn’t set a specific figure.