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China jails 14 over ‘Japanese orgy’

Two Chinese hotel workers were sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for organizing a sex romp involving hundreds of Japanese tourists in a case that hit a raw nerve in China.
The International Conference Hotel in Zhuhai which was closed by police after an alleged sex scandal involving about 400 Japanese tourists and 500 local prostitutes in September.China Photo via Reuters file
/ Source: Reuters

Two Chinese hotel workers were sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday for organizing a sex romp involving hundreds of Japanese tourists in a case that hit a raw nerve in China and sparked public outrage.

Twelve other Chinese people were sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years and police asked Interpol to help find three Japanese suspected of soliciting prostitutes for the orgy, which coincided with the 72nd anniversary of the start of Japan’s occupation of China, the official Xinhua news agency said.

State media have said the sex spree in mid-September, at a five-star hotel in Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong, involved hundreds of Japanese tourists and Chinese prostitutes.

The scandal triggered outrage in China, where antagonism toward Japan has never been far below the surface since millions were killed or wounded during about 14 years of Japanese occupation before and during World War II.

A Zhuhai court sentenced two employees at the hotel where the orgy took place — Ye Xiang and Ming Zhu — to life in prison for organizing the mass prostitution, Xinhua said.

Twelve defendants received jail sentences of from two to 15 years for “organizing prostitution and or assisting the organization of prostitution,” Xinhua said.

The case also led to the disciplining of 15 officials with Zhuhai’s police and the tourism bureau for negligence.

Chinese prosecutors issued warrants for the arrest of Hirobe Isao, Takahashi Shunji and Fukunaga Koji and police asked French-based international police organization Interpol to issue so-called “red notices” on them, the news agency said.

The notice is not an arrest warrant but can be used by police to detain someone pending extradition.

The 14 Chinese defendants went on trial behind closed doors on Friday. No Japanese have been indicted in the case so far.

Xinhua said all the Japanese tourists had arrived in China on Sept. 16 and left on Sept. 18. It did not say if the three suspects went with them.

Prostitution rife
An official with Japan’s National Police Agency said that although Japan was a member of Interpol its requests were not binding and the police could not automatically arrest a suspect unless the person had committed a crime in Japan.

Japan had no extradition treaty with China and it would take diplomatic negotiations to decide how to deal with the suspects, if they were in Japan, including whether or not to detain them, the Japanese official said.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said the ministry had not confirmed the Chinese request to Interpol.

Prostitution is technically illegal in China but has become rife in the past two decades after economic reforms brought prosperity to the once impoverished country.

The Japanese construction company whose workers were reported to have been most involved said some employees were in the hotel at the time, but denied there had been an orgy.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman called the incident “odious,” but the government is eager to avert diplomatic fallout and has not fanned anti-Japanese sentiment.

The incident is an embarrassment to Japan and China, close trading partners that have shown signs of growing diplomatic solidarity in the face of the North Korean nuclear crisis.