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Professor calls for memorial for Chinese parents who adopted Japanese orphans

(Xinhua)

16:41, September 20, 2011

CHANGCHUN, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese professor on Tuesday called for establishing a memorial for the Chinese foster parents of Japanese orphans left behind in China during the Second World War.

The memorial is meant to honor the Chinese who adopted the orphans of their enemies, even after their homeland was invaded and their relatives slaughtered during Japan's aggression, said Cao Baoming, vice president of China Society for the Study of Folk Literature and Art.

"Their maternal love extends beyond national boundaries and hatred and should be recorded in history," said Cao, who is also an expert on the wartime Japanese orphans.

Cao urged relevant government departments to provide living assistance to those foster parents who are still alive and to set up a memorial to preserve and display this moment in history through relics, pictures, scripts and videos.

Some 5,500 Japanese orphans were abandoned in China when their parents either fled or died in 1945 following the defeat of the Japanese occupiers, Cao said.

Gao Fengqin, 68, was one of these orphans. She told Xinhua that she was sent by her parents to a family in Harbin, capital of China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province, when she was five years old.

"I was skinny with lice all over me. I begged my mother to take me away, but she left me only the view of her back," Gao recalled.

Gao's story is a heart-wrenching result of Japan's invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s. The war of aggression broke out on July 7, 1937 in the outskirts of Beijing and ended on Aug. 15, 1945 when Japan announced its surrender to the world.

Over 20,000 Japanese immigrants were sent to Northeast China as the "pioneering group" between 1936 and 1945, and they were dispersed when the army retreated, forcing them to abandon their children, according to professor Cao.

Gao was raised by Chinese parents and, later, raised a family of her own in China.

"My Chinese parents treated me as their own and never let me feel wronged," she said.

Gao's memories are vivid although 66 years have passed since Japan's defeat and her adoptive parents, like many others, have passed away.

In Changchun, the capital of northeastern Jilin Province, 39 adoptive parents lived in a residence designated for them 20 years ago. Today, however, only one remains.

"The group is aging and passing away," said Cao. "They represent the greatness of love as a witness to history and a living model of human morality."

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