Passing of memorial days hailed
Ministry says Sept 3, Dec 13 act as reminders of Japanese atrocities
Experts in China and around the globe hailed the decision by China’s top legislature on Thursday to ratify two new national days regarding Japan’s wartime atrocities in China.
Sept 3 — the day after Japan officially surrendered in 1945 — was designated as victory day and Dec 13 was made a national memorial day for victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress said there is worldwide recognition of Japan’s “inhuman massacre” that began on Dec 13, 1937, and resulted in the deaths of more than 300,000 people in more than 40 days.
“This is an act of fascist savagery that disregards humanity,” the committee said.
The Foreign Ministry said the ratification serves as a “reminder of history” and a sign of the “Chinese people’s firm will to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
On Thursday, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun rebuked Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga for a comment the day before that Japan was “feeling puzzled” about the ratification coming decades later.
“We remember the history, and are not for fanning hatred again,” Yang said. “What has really puzzled us is that so many years have passed since World War II, so why have some people in Japan persisted in defying the verdict of history?”
Jiro Honzawa, a Japanese political commentator, said the ratification is eventful, and “it is of necessity” for the victimized Asian countries to provide sufficient education to younger generations.
Honzawa also underscored the same significance to the Japanese public, because the memorial days call upon them to reflect on the history and join hands with the Chinese to seek world peace and “say no to campaigns that try to derail Japan’s politics”.
Marceli Burdelski, a professor at the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Gdansk in Poland, said he thinks the setting of the two memorial days aims to educate descendants and that that period of history should “take deep root in the memory of all the peace lovers of the world”.
Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said that “in recent years, some right-wingers in Japan have attempted to whitewash history with ludicrous arguments, claiming that Japan was forced into the wars by the United States.”
Zhou said the war was a component of the global effort to eliminate fascism in the Asia-Pacific region, and that Japan “should always pay a humble attitude toward the history”, not the opposite.
Stefan Geiger, executive of the Germany-based economic and cultural organization Chinaforum Bayern, lauded the legislative decision and said that “otherwise, the history will be forgotten”.
Zhao Long, a former national political adviser who first submitted the proposal to commemorate the victims of the Nanjing Massacre in 2005, expected that “the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall can be listed as a national memorial hall and apply for a world heritage listing by the UN”.
Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, said the hall will be expanded this year and that workers have been sent to collect more material about the massacre.
“Though it happened in 1937, it is not too late to mark the massacre victims now because Japan is still denying the history of invasion,” he said. Contact the writer at zhangyunbi@chinadaily. com.cn Xinhua, Cang Wei in Nanjing, Wang Zhuolun and He Liu in Beijing contributed to this story.
Tourists visit the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing on Wednesday. China’s top legislature ratified two new national remembrance days on Thursday.