Former Shanghai ‘comfort women’ station demolished

Beijing, Feb 23 (IANS) Shanghai has begun demolishing the site of a former Japanese “comfort women” station, triggering widespread criticism, the media reported on Tuesday.

Demolition work at the two-storey building in the city’s Hongkou district that began on Monday may continue for several days, one of the construction workers at the site told the Global Times.

The worker claimed he does not know what will be constructed on the site once the demolition is complete, and all residents of the building appeared to have moved away.

The station, known as Umi-no-ie, operated under the command of the Japanese navy during the Second World War and had 17 rooms for “comfort women” from China, North Korea and Japan, according to Su Zhiliang, director of the China Comfort Women Issue Research Centre at Shanghai Normal University. Su called the demolition a “huge pity.”

“The son of the operator of Umi-no-ie wrote a memoir. He admitted the existence of the ‘comfort station’ and reflected on this issue. The history of Umi-no-ie was well recorded. The former sites of such stations in Shanghai bear the history of ‘comfort women’,” Su said expressing concern that such history would be lost with the demolition.

Zhang Song, a professor from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai, added that the demolition of the building also bodes ill for the preservation of Shanghai’s “lilong”, the city’s traditional alleys.

The Hongkou district has the highest number of comfort women stations in Shanghai. A total of 166 former stations are currently recorded in the city, but only 40 sites are preserved.

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