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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Chinese protest Japan war crimes
By Jin Ni
BBC News, Beijing

Protester in Beijing
Public protests are still relatively rare in China
Several dozen people have taken part in a rare public protest in the Chinese capital Beijing, against what they see as Japanese crimes during World War II.

About 30 people marched to the Japanese embassy with banners and slogans.

Such protests are rare in China, although the government has sanctioned a number of rallies against the Japanese wartime treatment of Chinese.

However the number of these demonstrations has fallen in recent years.

More than 10,000 people took part in a protest in April 2005, and observers said the government was taken by surprise by the scale of the demonstration, and has since attempted to reduce the numbers of those taking part in such events.

'Slave labour'

Thursday's protesters were complaining about what they described as the "slavery" of Chinese labourers during the Japanese occupation of parts of China in the 1940s.

The protesters said they had informed the Chinese authorities about their planned demonstration.

The area around the embassy was cordoned off by the police once the protest had begun, and only journalists were allowed into the area.

The group of protesters included a number of elderly men who said they had been the victims of Japanese slave labour. They held banners demanding compensation from the Japanese government.

Others held pictures of their dead family members, whom they say suffered at the hands of Japanese forces.

Among the group was 80-year-old Liu Qian. He and his family came all the way from Hebei province in northern China to join the protest.

He said he was taken to Japan in 1944 to work as a slave labourer, and was tortured and left with a crippled leg.

Kang Jian, the lawyer representing the victims, told the BBC that the protest was held because the Japanese court recently ruled that workers at a Japanese construction company had no right to seek war compensation because of a 1972 agreement with China.

The demonstrators left a protest letter in the mail box outside the embassy.

The BBC contacted the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, but no one was unavailable for comment.


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