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Demolition on former site of 'comfort women' house suspended

THE Hongkou District government today suspended the demolition on a building, which was once a major local comfort houses where Japanese troops forced “comfort women” into sexual slavery during the occupation of the city in the 1930s and 40s.

Known as the “Umi no le", the two-story wooden and brick structure on Gongping Road in the district was used to serve high-ranking Japanese naval officials from 1939 through 1946. 

The comfort house, which was opened and operated by a Japanese naval veteran named Sakashita Kumazo, had 17 rooms and included bathrooms, warehouses, kitchens and sitting rooms. It imprisoned 40 comfort women including 20 Chinese and 20 from Japan and Korea.

Kumazo's son who helped operating the comfort house in 1944 and 1945 had made a visit to the city in 1991 to confess his guilt. He said the building was well preserved and looked exactly the same as half a century ago.

“It is important that China protects remaining evidences of these crimes, especially as most of the victims have already deceased and many of those comfort house buildings have disappeared,” said Professor Su Zhiliang, an expert researching on the 'comfort women' history. 

The house was later purchased by local railway bureau to accommodate its employees, said a 78-year-old resident surnamed Su who has lived nearby for over half a century.

The house used to accommodate 15 households and they later all agreed on relocation deals, Su told Shanghai Daily.

Almost all the houses surrounding this building have already been demolished with residents relocated. 

A cobbler said workers began demolishing the former comfort house yesterday but stopped and left today.

Gate to the house has been locked and most interior wooden decorations have already been removed, but the structure was still complete.


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