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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Get Life In Chinese Sex Party

BEIJING -- A Chinese court today sentenced two people to life in prison and 12 others to terms as long as 15 years for organizing a sex party in mid-September for several hundred Japanese tourists. "This is very harsh compared to similar cases," said Wu Ge, director of the Constitutional and Human Rights Center at Tsinghua University. "This case is very serious and on a large scale, and the government paid close attention to the case. The general public has been quite angry about this."

The incident took place over a three-day period ending Sept. 18 and reportedly involved about 400 Japanese men and 500 Chinese hostesses at a hotel in the southern city of Zhuhai. China initially clamped a lid on coverage of the story in the official press, but Chinese web sites and chat rooms refused to ignore it, eventually prompting Beijing to lodge an official complaint with the Japanese government. Tempers were further inflamed because the incident occurred on the anniversary of Japan's 1931 invasion of China. China has said three Japanese accused of organizing the sex party might be detained, according to the state-run New China News Agency. "This incident will make Chinese-Japanese relations worse," said Shinichiro Sakikawa, a reporter in China with the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper.

This is but one in a series of vexing issues between the two Asian giants. Chinese citizens became ill earlier this year when poison gas escaped from long-forgotten canisters left by Japan's imperial army. And an exchange student party in Xian several weeks ago drew nationwide attention when a parody by Japanese students was interpreted as insulting to China. Chinese newspapers have referred to the Zhuhai incident as the "Japanese orgy."

Although some legal scholars thought the sentence was quite harsh, some Chinese said those tried -- two hotel staffers and 12 men who recruited the prostitutes -- deserved what they got. "This was not harsh at all," said Ma Senling, 40, an employee at a real estate management company. "They should be punished. This is so bad. Chinese people should have self-esteem and foreigners should respect us." Although prostitution is illegal in China, it is common and often practiced openly in barbershops and tourist hotels in major cities.

Japan has launched its own investigation into the incident. An unidentified Japanese construction company based in Osaka reportedly paid $37,000 to organize the party as a thank-you gesture for its employees. Not all of the participants were employees of the company.