About 24 years ago, Mr. Tong Zeng in China started a campaign to try to get compensation from Japan for the numerous Chinese who were forced by the Japanese military to work as slave laborers during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Once this initiative was reported in the Chinese media, thousands of former Chinese slave laborers or their relatives, as well as Chinese victims of other Japanese atrocities, wrote to him reporting on their experiences. To his surprise, over the next few years, he received over 10,000 letters from all over China.
Twenty plus years later, he is now thinking of scanning these letters and put them up on the web. This is such a great plan. So now there is a small team of people in the U.S. collaborating with Mr. Tong and his associates on this project. During these 20-plus years, because a lot of Chinese media people and relatives of the letter authors have borrowed and never returned many of those letters, only about 5,000 of these letters remain in Mr. Tong’s possession (copying machines were not very prevalent in China 20+ years ago).
The project has been expanded to include:
- Scanning the 5,000 letters and envelopes to create an electronic record of each letter and envelope
- For each letter, manually enter some simple indexing information for classification and to facilitate retrieval.
- Transcribe each Chinese letter to create a digital file in the electronic database so that searches can be done based on any part of the contents of each Chinese letter.
- For a representative subset, like 10%, of the letters, translate them into English to create an English digital file for this subset of the letters, so that searches can be done based on any part of the contents of the translated English letter. Later, remaining letters are also planned to be translated into English.
- Develop a public website to host these digital files. The website will be in both Chinese (Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese) and English, to allow the public around the world to read and search these “cries for justice” testimonials from a large number of Chinese victims of Japanese war crimes during WWII.
For those who know Chinese, the following link (http://v.ifeng.com/special/duirisuopei/) provides an excellent 14-minute video of the history of trying to get justice for the victims of Japanese wartime atrocities through lawsuits in Japan, and more recently through lawsuits in Chinese courts. These “10,000 Cries for Justice“ letters are part of this seeking-justice movement. If you scroll down the screen of this link, you can also see some sample letters.