The scars and wounds re­main but jus­tice was served

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By LIU CE in Shenyang liuc@chi­nadaily.com.cn

It is easy to find re­minders of war in Shenyang, cap­i­tal of Liaon­ing prov­ince. TheMil­i­tary Tri­bunal Site for Ja­panese War Crim­i­nals in the down­town area is one of them. The city was oc­cu­pied by the Ja­panese army dur­ingWorldWar II.

“The Septem­ber 18th In­ci­dent was the be­gin­ning of the Ja­panese in­va­sion of China, and the mil­i­tary trial in Shenyang was a part of the process of end­ing the ag­gres­sion. The Chi­nese War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (193745) be­gan in Shenyang, and also ended in the city,” said Wang Jianxue, chair­man of the Septem­ber 18th In­ci­dent Study Re­search In­sti­tute.

In 1956, the gov­ern­ment set up the tri­bunal site to bring 36 Ja­panese war crim­i­nals fromWorldWar II to trial. All 36 crim­i­nals pleaded guilty, in­clud­ing Suzuki Keiku, lieu­tenant gen­eral and com­man­der of the 117th Di­vi­sion of the Ja­panese army, and Rokusashi Takebe, chief of gen­eral af­fairs of “Manchukuo”.

“All the crim­i­nals pleaded guilty in the face of over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence. And they never ex­pected that Chi­nese peo­ple would be able to re­turn good for evil be­cause none of them were sen­tenced to death. Some of them even knelt down in court to apol­o­gize to their Chi­nese vic­tims,” Quan Deyuan re­called. Now, 84, Quan was the as­sis­tant judge at the trial.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion from law school at Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity in 1954, Quan be­came a law teacher in Liaon­ing. He was se­lected to take court records be­cause he was a law ma­jor and could speak Ja­panese.

“All the pro­ce­dures of an in­ter­na­tional court were fol­lowed. Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional prac­tice, lawyers should wear dark suits, white shirts and leather shoes. But this was in 1956, no one in China wore clothes like that, so they drewa great deal of at­ten­tion when they were walk­ing down the street.”

Quan re­mem­bered clearly that on the first day of the trial on July 1, the chief judge an­nounced to the de­fen­dants: “Dur­ing the process of the trial, you can ask ques­tions to the wit­nesses. You can de­fend your­self. Also, you have the right of a fi­nal statement.”

The most un­for­get­table thing for Quan was the wit­ness tes­ti­mony. “A woman, whose 4-year-old daugh­ter and mother-in-lawwere killed, even tried to pounce on the Ja­panese crim­i­nal. Ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses, the Ja­panese used nu­mer­ous hor­ri­ble ways to kill in­no­cent civil­ians. It brought tears to my eyes in court,” he said.

That’s also the rea­son that Quan and many peo­ple couldn’t un­der­stand the light sen­tence Ja­panese crim­i­nals re­ceived at that time. The war crim­i­nals were sen­tenced to prison terms rang­ing from eight to 20 years.

“How­ever, my su­per­vi­sor re­minded me that these crim­i­nals used to be or­di­nary peo­ple. It was the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment that was ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the war. For­giv­ing them was more mean­ing­ful than killing them. They could serve as en­voys of friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries in the fu­ture,” Quan re­called.

“Time has proved he was right.”

LIU CE / CHINA DAILY

Quan Deyuan re­counts bring­ing 36 Ja­panese war crim­i­nals to trial to stu­dents at the Mil­i­tary Tri­bunal Site for Ja­panese War Crim­i­nals in Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

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