Date of letter:1993-11-01
Address of author:Xiangcheng City (county-level city), Zhoukou City, Henan Province
Date of event:1937, 1938
Location of event:Shanghai Citu, Zhejiang Province
Name of author:Xia Zhennan
Name(s) of victim(s):Xia Zhennan, his father, younger brother and fellow citizens
Type of atrocity:Rapes, Murders, Biological/Chemical Warfare, Others(RA, MU, BC, OT)
Other details:On August 13, 1937, the Japanese soldiers invaded Shanghai. My family fled to Jiaxing County of Zhejiang Province. In April, 1938 when my father was engaged in the shipping business, the Japanese soldiers boarded the ship and ordered the women to undress themselves and sexually abused them. My father went up to stop the Japanese soliers, but was stabbed by them who also had a dog bite him, resulting in my father Xia Jinghan’s death. I was also stabbed by the Japanese soldiers, the scar still visible now. On April 26, 1938 when my younger brother and I were in the street, a Japanese soldier asked my brother to help him find their lab mice, and gave sweets to my brother in return. As a result, the next day my brother died of virus infection. I was also infected with the virus, and now still suffer from the infection every year.
Respectable comrade Tong Zeng,
Sorry to disturb you! Wish you success with your work!
I am so honored and glad to know about you from the magazine Legal World of September 1992 (No. 134) published in Henan. I am deeply moved with tears by your efforts to demand compensation for Chinese victims of Japanese invaders during the World War II. Your act reflects your immeasurable love to the country and people! You are indeed a loyal, filial, brave and good son of the Chinese people! We wish you success. Meanwhile, we think your ground-breaking work is a difficult and long task. I’d like to provide some suggestions.
(1) According to the last four paragraphs in the “Claim for Compensation”, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China made a speech on March 11, 1992, saying, ‘The civil victims of the Sino-Japanese war can directly demand compensation from Japan for their losses’. Also, General Secretary Jiang said on April 1, ‘The Chinese government has given up war reparations from Japan, but doesn’t restrict civil requests for compensation.'” Please think about it. Our country was once the poorest country in the world due to the oppression of imperialism, bureaucracy and feudalism. We are what we are today because of the hard work of the people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. As the old Chinese saying goes, “People is paramount to a country and food is paramount to people”. A country would go wrong if its people couldn’t live a moderately well-off life. The evil Japanese army should make compensation! Chairman Jiang, as the leader of the country, has the duty to take the lead in demanding compensation for the people instead of weakly avoiding the duty! Chairman Mao said, “Being kind to the enemies means being cruel to the people.” According to the Quotations from Chairman Mao, the government cadres are the servants of the people. Then, the cadres should serve the people by demanding compensation for the victims. We sincerely ask you, along with NPC representatives and influential seniors, to earnestly request the government to appoint special diplomatic envoys to Japan until the compensation is paid. Just think about how the people will respect and thank you!
(2) The Sino-Japanese war was won by the people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. After we were defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, the battlefield of Russo-Japanese War in northeastern China and other invading wars beneficial to Japan, we always paid without loans according to their requirements. This is fully facilitated by the Japanese government. But we Chinese people have to “swallow the pain” due to our government’s decision. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “The Chinese people can directly demand compensation from Japan.” Well, our reply is, “How can we get to Japan? We are lucky to survive the war. We are uneducated and ignorant. How could we achieve anything without the help of the government? So, we require leadership of the government.”
(3) I once went to the Police Station of my town to ask about the methods of demanding compensation. They replied, “This is a matter among people. We don’t care at all if the upper authority doesn’t send instructions to us.” You can see how hard the miserable victims’ life is! How did our great, patriotic and people-loving Communist Party of China become a “chicken”? I sincerely ask you to request the government to immediately send special envoys to Japan as pioneers of the compensation matter and then send navy and air forces to hold a demonstration on the Yellow Sea where Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 took place to show the strength of new China to the world and let them know that the Chinese people are no longer the past weak people who they could bully! Besides, if we victims receive the compensation, its means our country will have more resources and is wealthier, isn’t?
(4) The issue of comfort women is even harder to handle in China. Those women who were then raped by the Japanese soldiers are now 80 or 90 with grandchildren around them. Due to the traditional “three obediences and four virtues” that women are expected to comply with, some comfort women said, “Even if Japan would compensate me with ten million yuan, I wouldn’t tell the truth to get it.” I think it’s better to gather more information in Japan. Back then in the war, I was in Jiaxing City. One day, I saw eight 10-wheel military trucks at the gate of the Japanese comfort station (called Yuanyang Pavilion) inside the east gate, Jiaxing, from which young women came out and were forced by the Japanese soldiers into the pavilion. We can ask the government to find the Japanese owner (Japanese policemen and military) of the pavilion and ask for lists and photos of the women to find those female victims. (At that time, according to the Japanese army, anyone who raped the women was not considered a rapists by paying 1jiao in Japanese currency and was not guilty.) Moreover, we must protect the dignity and identity of the women involved to avoid moral conflicts.
(5) Demanding compensation for losses in the World War II is a cross-border criminal case. There are many difficulties for the common people to handle it alone! We must depend on the leadership of the government. In the past, Japan launched wars of aggression such as September 18 Incident using the excuse that no compensation was paid for the missing of the Japanese tourist (Rōnin) Nakamura and also the January 28 Incident where 19th Army battled in Shanghai as well as the August 13 Incident that started a patriotic war using the excuse of protecting overseas Japanese. Now, with sufficient military forces and the leadership of the Party, we reasonably and righteously demand compensation to protect the victims of the World War II through peaceful diplomatic means according to international law.
Respectable comrade Tong Zeng, I am sending my Letter of Claim to you because the postal office in my hometown doesn’t handle foreign letters and I don’t know where to send it. Due to short-sightedness and dizziness, I wrote the above words. Hopefully, you won’t laugh at me. I hope our life will become better in our country and that brave, good children of the Chinese people like you will succeed.
Wish you success!
P.S. Comrade Tong, you are registering the victims, right? Please take time to fill out the form for me. Thank you.
November 1, 1993
Letter of Claim for Damage Compensation for My Losses during the World War II
Claimant: Xia Zhennan (male), 74, former primary school teacher (now unemployed), lives at No. 9, Nansan Hutong, Longwei Street, Moling Town, Xiangcheng County, Henan Province, People’s Republic of China.
My family originally lived at No. 37, Xianqian Street, Songjiang County, Shanghai under the household name of Xia Jinghan.
My family had 3 houses with shop fronts in Kuda Street, with 1 four-in-one living room, 4 bedrooms, 2 kitchens (2 passages connecting kitchens and the living room) and 2 yards, where there was a well and we planted trees of various kinds such as peach, apricot, plum and lychee and kept poultry such as ducks, chickens, geese and rabbits.
In addition, my family had movables such as calligraphy and paintings of the famous ancients from Jin and Tang dynasties, antique utensils, a set of phoebe zhennan furniture and jewelry. We are a well-off and law-abiding family in the street.
My father Xia Jinghan was a scholar in the Qing Dynasty and graduated from Beijing Youji Normal School. Then, he studied abroad in Japan and joined the Chinese United League, the Revolution of 1911 and the Constitutional Protection Movement. Afterwards, he moved to Songjiang County, Shanghai and made a living as a teacher.
My family had 5 members, including my parents, me, my younger brother and my younger sister and we three children went to school. We lived a happy life. But at 23:00 p.m. on August 13, 1937, the Imperial Japanese army suddenly launched a war of aggression against China! My family escaped in a hurry to Youchegang Town, Jiaxing County, Zhejiang province for shelter. At the end of 1937, many places in the south of the Yangtze River fell. The Japanese army set up a Publicity and Comfort Team which created a Clear Area by appointing a head of a county and played a political trick by vigorously encouraging “the good people who fled from home due to the war to return home and work and live safely.”
In April 1938, to enable the family to live better, my father and I went to Jiaxing City to make a living. When the ship we were on sailed to a lookout post of the Japanese army at an ancient canal intersection about 2 li (1 li =500 meters) from the city, the Japanese sentries ordered all passengers to go ashore and be searched. They even ordered women to take off their clothes and be insulted by them. My father couldn’t tolerate such humiliation, so he spoke to a Japanese sentry in Japanese, “This is unmoral and unfriendly.” Unexpectedly, the Japanese sentry bayoneted my father in the left shoulder, causing him to bleed badly (I cried bitterly at seeing my father bleeding, so the Japanese sentry also bayoneted my in the left shoulder. I still bear the scare). Then, the Japanese sentry let a military dog to bite at my father’s wound. Thus, my father Mr. Xia Jinghan was purposefully killed by the Japanese army!
This was how the Japanese soldiers acted in the Clear Area under the rule of the Imperial Japanese army-raping women and purposefully killing innocent good Chinese people! Back then, I was only 15. After my father’s death, I went to the city with my younger brother Xia Zhensong to lead a half-starving life by writing for other people!
One day on April 26, 1938, I was walking on the street with my younger brother. A Japanese soldier showed up and said to us, “Kids, one of our small white rats is missing. If you can find it and send it to the 731 Unit to the south of the railway, I will give you 2 yuan.” After my younger brother found the rat and sent it there, the Japanese soldier gave half a box of candies to him apart from the money. My young, innocent younger brother actually ate them! (We didn’t know the 731 Unit was a biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Japanese army). So, my younger brother Xia Zhensong died at the next noon. According to the doctor’s diagnosis, “Xia Zhensong died of swallowing multiple kinds of bacteria.”
In addition, I was also infected with the bacteria and suffered in bed for over a year. Even until now, I will suffer from periodic diarrhea, dysentery and relapsing fever every year. Just think about it, how could I work if I am confined to bed due to illness? Why should the innocent Chinese people suffer from the devastating, inhuman disaster?
I lost my relatives (My family had 5 members, but 2 were dead, I was seriously injured and my mother and younger sister were missing.) for no reason when I was still a teenager and couldn’t feel the happiness of a family. Moreover, my family’s property was burned down by the incendiaries of the Japanese army. My family was torn apart and I had to live a vagrant life and beg for living (sometimes I had to starve because I couldn’t beg food). How heartbreaking it was! I intended to take my own life, but I was saved by kind people.
Your Excellency, please compensate me USD 100,000 to maintain permanent peace between the Japanese and Chinese people and comfort me, an old, lonely victim of the World War II and wish you success with your work.
Citizen Xia Zhennan (Fingerprint)
November 1, 1993