China to preserve Japan's WWII military brothel as 'war crime evidence'

BEIJING, March 17 (Yonhap) -- China is taking steps to preserve buildings once used by Japan's Imperial Army as a notorious military brothel during World War II as "war crime evidence," state media reported Monday, the latest step to call attention to Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of women.

The southern city of Nanjing is drafting plans to preserve the seven buildings in Liji Alley of Nanjing City, Xinhua news agency reported, describing the Japanese wartime military brothel as "the largest of its kind in Asia."

"It's of great historical importance to have these buildings protected for the whole world to remember the crimes of war," Jing Shenghong, a history professor with Nanjing Normal University, told Xinhua.

Historians say up to 200,000 women from Korea, China and other Asian nations were forced into sexual servitude at front-line Japanese brothels during World War II. Those sex slaves were euphemistically called "comfort women."

Japanese politicians have drawn criticism from its Asian neighbors, including South Korea and China, for attempting to deny the wartime sexual enslavement of women.

Last Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government would not revise a landmark 1993 statement that recognized the involvement of the Japanese military in coercing women to work in military brothels.

South Korea has pressed Japan to settle long-running grievances over the victims of wartime sex slavery, by extending a formal apology and providing compensation to them. But Japan has refused to do so, saying the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two countries.

Time is running out for those aging victims in South Korea, with only 55 still alive today. Their average age is 88.

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