Reopening of memorial at centre of massacre anniversary

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2007, 12:00am

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall will reopen next Thursday after an 18-month upgrade to add new wings to mark the 70th anniversary of the Rape of Nanking.

A museum staff member confirmed yesterday that the opening of the extensions would be a key part of the centre's commemorative activities.

On the morning of the opening, more than 80 experts and historians from around the world will meet to examine atrocities committed by Japanese troops on Chinese civilians.

The new memorial hall will be divided into three sections - war, mass slaughter and peace. It covers 7.32 hectares of land, and is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year.

Meanwhile, the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands has denied internet rumours that it had called for a mass rally to mark the day. According to the rumours, the federation hoped to attract 300,000 people to the memorial hall on December 13 to mourn the deaths 70 years ago.

Federation spokesman Yan Hongmin said he knew nothing about such plans.

'I have not heard about it,' he said. 'If there were such an action, I would know something about it.'

If it were to take place, however, the federation would support it, Mr Yan added.

Another activist, Li Yiqiang, who sailed to the Diaoyu Islands in late October in a bid to declare sovereignty, said: 'The scene would be overwhelming.'

The Nanking Massacre occurred in December 1937 when Japanese troops occupied China's then capital. More than 300,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed and thousands of women were raped.