Plea for peace in recalling atrocity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2006, 12:00am

Japanese citizens join memorial to mark Nanking Massacre

Japanese citizens and monks were among the 3,000 or so people at the Nanking Massacre Memorial Hall yesterday to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Nanjing's invasion by Japanese forces, according to mainland media.

Sirens sounded throughout the city for two three-minute periods in the morning in memory of the estimated 300,000 citizens killed by troops between December 13, 1937, and January, 1938, when the Japanese forces began to withdraw.

Nanjing was known as Nanking during the occupation. At the memorial hall ceremony, a Nanjing resident read out a plea for world peace, Xinhua reported.

'The Nanjing people, who have suffered much from war, most cherish peace. We would like to build a harmonious world. We call on all peace-loving organisations and people to unite in working towards a peaceful, harmonious and tolerant world,' Xin Yingmei said.

The memorial hall is undergoing a 470 million yuan expansion, which is due to be finished in April.

Nanjing University historian Zhang Xianwen was quoted by the Yangtze Evening News as saying that the first book to contain the names of all of the massacre victims would be published at the end of next year, following three years of collation efforts that included checks of overseas archives.

A privately-operated museum examining the resistance to the military invasion also opened free to the public yesterday.

This museum, established by entrepreneur Wu Xianbin at a cost of 3 million yuan, houses more than 30,000 pictures from the period as well as hundreds of artefacts and video testimonies of survivors, China News Service reported.

The anniversary was also remembered outside Nanjing, including Chongqing where a dozen youths demonstrated on Sunday in the city's downtown area.

The Chongqing Evening News said the demonstrators waved the national flag and wore T-shirts printed with the words: 'Don't forget our nation's disgrace.'

Strained Sino-Japanese relations have improved in recent months, especially after a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Beijing in October.

In interviews published by Xinhua and the magazine Globe, Chinese ambassador to Japan, Wang Yi , said Mr Abe's visit 'achieved a breakthrough in the political impasse between the two countries'.

Relations between China and Japan were at a low ebb when Mr Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, visited the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo.

In Hong Kong, organisations such as the New Forum, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and the Reparation Association organised marches and issued statements of protest against the Japanese government for not recognising the brutality in that part of the country's history.