PHOTOS: China remembers the Nanjing Massacre, 80 years later
“Only by remembering the history can we build a better future.”
On December 13th, 1937, Japanese soldiers began their assault on Nanjing, the former capital of the Republic of China. In the six weeks of murder, rape, and destruction that followed, China says that 300,000 people were killed in a brutal massacre that has been etched in blood in the country’s collective memory.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, a state memorial ceremony was held in the city of Nanjing with Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials in attendance. Xi did not speak at the event, instead the keynote address was made by Yu Zhengsheng, head of the largely ceremonial CPPCC, who called for continued peace between China and Japan.
“War is like a mirror. It keeps reminding us the preciousness of peace,” Yu said in comments broadcast live on state television. “Only by remembering the history can we build a better future.”
Relations between China and Japan are always less than friendly as wounds inflicted during what China calls the “War Against Japanese Aggression” have yet to heal (earlier this year, Beijing decided to add an extra six years onto its war with Japan). In particular, the Nanjing Massacre continues to shape how Chinese see Japan. While estimates of the exact death toll vary, some prominent Japanese politicians, scholars, and businessmen claim that no massacre took place at all in Nanjing.
Many Chinese believe that Japan has never fully atoned for the atrocities of World War II, while Japan has been “confused” by China placing an increased emphasis on these past actions. In 2014, China created two new national commemoration days, one for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, and the other called the “War Against Japanese Aggression Victory Day.”
That same year, after the United Nations agreed to add documents dealing with the Nanjing Massacre to its Memory of the World program, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary threatened to withdraw Japanese funding for UNESCO, arguing that the documents submitted were based only on China’s perceptions of the event.
Elsewhere in Nanjing earlier today, residents observed a minute of silence for victims of the massacre with horns blaring in the street.
[Images via Xinhua / ChinaNews]