Coming to grips with the pain of the past

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 12:00am

The various activities commemorating the September 18, 1931, invasion helped educate Chinese citizens not to forget history and were in the interests of long-term Sino-Japanese relations, organisers said yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a symposium on problems left by the Japanese occupation, Wang Xinhua, president of the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War Memorial in Beijing, said the first thing needed was for Japan to admit what it had done.

'We were discussing unsolved issues left by the war, which was an important event in our history, on this special day,' he said. 'We want to educate people not to forget our past and know what actually happened. We hope they will have a better understanding of the war issues. Resolving the history issue is also a must for forging a friendly relationship between the two countries.'

Mr Wang said 200 scholars from the US, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland gathered for a two-day meeting at a memorial near the Marco Polo Bridge in south Beijing which marked the beginning of Japan's full-scale invasion of China 67 years ago.

The July 7 Marco Polo Bridge incident came six years after Japan occupied China's three northeastern provinces - Heilongjiang , Jilin and Liaoning - in 1931.

'All the participants have a common goal, to understand these issues better and create a bright future for Sino-Japanese ties,' he added.

Feng Jinhua , one of seven mainland activists detained after landing on the Diaoyu Islands earlier this year, said it was encouraging to see commemorations in as many as 100 cities, including wailing sirens and symposiums.

'[Our aim is] to tell our fellow countrymen to care more about the history and the war victims,' he said after attending a demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy in Beijing with 20 other protesters.

He said they also had a message for the Japanese people.

'We want to remind the Japanese of the fact that they have been misguided for a long time, which leads to their misunderstandings of the Chinese people's attitudes [towards the war],' he said.