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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 22:59 GMT
Nanjing survivor sues Japanese authors
Chinese bodies in ditches in Nanjing
Thousands of bodies were buried in ditches
A Chinese woman who survived Japan's 1937 massacre in the Chinese city of Nanjing has filed a lawsuit against two Japanese authors and their publisher, alleging they distorted the truth about the event.

I am a witness to history and I want to serve notice that Japan's history cannot be denied

Xia Shuqin
Xia Shuqin, 71, is seeking nearly $100,000 in compensation in her defamation suit filed in Nanjing, in the first such case in China.

In tears, she told a news conference how Japanese soldiers slaughtered seven out of nine members of her immediate family, and how she heard the cries of her sister as she was raped with her mother.

Man being buried in Nanjing in 1937
Some victims were reportedly buried alive
Ms Xia, who was eight at the time, said she herself was stabbed three times as she hid under a quilt.

"What angers me the most is that they claim I am a false witness," a sobbing Ms Xia said. "That is unbearable."

Ms Xia's testimony has been heard numerous times, including at a United Nations-organised War Crimes Tribunal in 1945 after Japan's surrender.

Historians estimate that between 60,000 and 300,000 civilians were butchered by imperial Japanese troops in the "Rape of Nanjing".

Japanese troops entering Nanjing in 1937
Japanese troops entered the city in triumph in 1937

Some right-wing Japanese nationalists have denied or downplayed the massacre, to the fury of the Chinese.

Author's denial

One of the authors, Osamichi Higashinakano, a professor at Asia University in Japan, told the French news agency AFP that there was "no record" proving the massacre had occurred.

Asked about photographs widely regarded as evidence of the massacre, he said: "No picture has a credit showing who, when, or where it was taken".

Japanese soldier beheading Chinese
Witnesses say the Japanese occupation of China was very brutal
Ms Xia's story was given prominent coverage on the front pages of the Chinese press on Wednesday, which warned Japan not to conceal this chapter of its history.

"The fight of Chinese and other Asian peoples against Japan's attempts to whitewash its militarist past has lasted for more than half a century. Unfortunately it looks as if it will go on," the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial.

Ms Xia's legal adviser said she feared her client was too old and poor to take her case to Japan's slow-moving courts, where similar suits have failed.

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan war slaves get $4.6m
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16 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan: A divine country?
22 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Japan rules out war compensation
29 Mar 98 | Despatches
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27 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Wartime 'sex slaves' get compensation
15 Dec 97 | Despatches
Nanjing massacre film released
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