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Chinese women pursue 'sex slave' cause

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- A new court case being pursued by a group of Chinese women who say they were wartime sex slaves may renew concerns about relations between China and Japan.

The eight women, who were aged 14 to 18 at the time, are suing the Japanese government, demanding a public apology and compensation, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A group of lawyers from China and Japan have volunteered to assist them, with legal fees to be covered by a group of Chinese and Japanese who advocate China-Japan friendship, Xinhua says.

The women, all now in their 70s, belong to the Li ethnic group of south China's island province of Hainan where Xinhua says Japanese troops set up several "comfort houses" during the occupation.

A Tokyo court dismissed a similar suit by another group of women in May, the news agency said.

Tokyo has set up a private foundation to issue apologies and compensation, but most of the women involved say it is not enough and that apologies should come from the government.

Japan insists that all government-level compensation was settled by postwar peace treaties.

Relations between Japan and China and Korea, also occupied during World War II, have been vexed by Japan's inclination to gloss over wartime atrocities.


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