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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nanjing victim's libeler loses appeal


Staff writer

The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court defamation ruling, ordering a historian and a publishing company to pay a combined ¥4 million to a female Nanjing Massacre survivor for calling her an impostor in a book about the atrocity.

Dismissing appeals from both the plaintiff and the defendants, the court ruled that Shudo Higashinakano's book, "The Nanking Massacre: Fact versus Fiction — A Historian's Quest for Truth," defamed the plaintiff and severely hurt her pride.

Higashinakano, 60, said in his book that Xia Shugin, 79, lied in her accounts of the massacre. He also accused her of posing as a victim and claimed the Imperial Japanese Army's infamous massacre of Chinese civilians never took place.

Xia said she was pleased overall. "I'm very happy with the ruling," Xia said in a statement distributed afterward. "I would like to represent victims of the Nanjing Massacre and show gratitude that the facts of the incident were recognized."

According to Xia's accounts, some 20 Imperial army soldiers stormed into her house at around 10 a.m. on Dec. 13, 1937. Xia, then 8, and her 4-year-old sister survived the intrusion despite being bayoneted — but all seven other members of her family, including a newborn, were slaughtered.

Xia was filmed after the attack by a U.S. missionary who was traveling with the Red Cross in Nanjing. The footage is frequently cited by historians as key evidence that the Nanjing Massacre took place.

In the book published by Tokyo-based Tendensha, Higashinakano argues that there were inconsistencies in many of Xia's recollections, and that the 8-year-old captured by the missionary's motion picture camera is someone else.

The high court said there is "no grounds for recognizing that argument."

The district court ruled last November.



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