Chongqing Bombing survivors to appear in Japanese court
Victims of the Chongqing Bombing will appear in the Tokyo High Court Thursday for an appeal hearing on their lawsuit demanding an apology and compensation from the Japanese government.
Photo taken on June 5, 2017 shows 94-year-old Gao Rongbin, a victim of the Chongqing Bombing. [Photo: VCG]
"This might be the last time that I am able to go to Japan, since I am 85 years old now," said Chen Guifang, one of six people from the plaintiff group, who left southwest China's Chongqing Municipality to travel to Tokyo Tuesday.
There are altogether 243 plaintiffs in the case, including victims and their relatives, representing 188 victims.
The court is expected to give a verdict on the appeal, after a local court ruled against the then 188 plaintiffs -- all victims -- in 2015.
In its ruling, the Tokyo District Court acknowledged damage caused by the air raids, but did not recognize the plaintiffs' right to seek damages.
Chen was only six years old when her parents were fatally injured in an air raid.
Japanese warplanes indiscriminately bombed Chongqing, then China's capital, and nearby cities between 1938 and 1944, killing and injuring more than 32,000 people.
The bombing along with the Nanjing Massacre are viewed as the most horrific atrocities committed by Japan during the war.
"I will never forget the scene. Hearing the air-raid sirens wailing, I saw my parents fall down with blood all over them," said Chen, the only survivor in her family.
In 2002, more than 500 Chongqing Bombing victims grouped together. Between 2006 and 2015, 188 of them filed four lawsuits against the Japanese government, demanding an apology and compensation.
"I can show them the shrapnel wounds on my body, and we have prepared to present the documents and evidence at the court," Chen said.
Li Yuankui, head of the plaintiff delegation, said he had grouped three Chongqing Bombing survivors and 28 descendants of the victims, and volunteers, to appear at the court hearing.
"This is the largest number of Chinese plaintiffs to appear in the court hearing on the case. Maybe the lawsuit will approach an end, but the mission for seeking justice will never end," he said.
Jiang Yifu, in his 50s, was an assistant to Li. He took over the job from his deceased father in 2010 and volunteers as a Japanese interpreter for the group.
"We are racing against time to carry on the mission. My constant concerns are that the elderly will die with regret [without hearing the verdict]," Jiang said.
By March this year, 22 of the 188 original plaintiffs had died over a period of seven years, according to Jiang. The oldest survivors are now aged 94.
"My mother left me her will when she died, asking me to continue the lawsuit seeking justice for her," said Zhong Chuanfeng, who is a volunteer accountant in the group.
Pan Xun, history professor with the Southwest University in Chongqing, expressed his admiration for the elderly in the group.
"The senior people as witnesses of history have been fighting strenuously to have their voices heard. They have inspired others, and history should never be forgotten," he said.