Japanese attack remembered, 82 years later

Mukden incident commemorated in Shenyang in sombre ceremony free of last year's violence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 4:53am

China yesterday marked the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese attack that led to the second world war occupation, amid lingering tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over territorial disputes.

Air defence sirens sounded for three minutes in Shenyang , the capital of Liaoning province in the northeast, where the Japanese army began its assault. Cars on nine roads and 18 streets came to a halt, and drivers blew their horns. Thirteen other cities in the province also sounded sirens to mark the anniversary of the attack known as the Mukden incident.

Japanese soldiers blew up dynamite at a railway in Mukden, now called Shenyang, in 1931. The Japanese then blamed the act on the Chinese, using the explosion as a pretext to take control of northeastern China.

Last year's commemoration was marked by widespread anti-Japanese protests across the mainland, after Beijing gave a furious response to Tokyo's announcement it would purchase the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japanese, in the East China Sea. Some of the protests held in the run-up to the anniversary turned violent, with Japanese shops and restaurants vandalised.

The Japanese consulate in Shenyang issued a statement on its website on Tuesday, urging Japanese in the city to be careful of their personal safety. But the anniversary passed quietly.

In the eastern city of Hefei , an air defence drill was organised among local residents after the sirens. Students at Liaocheng University in Shandong organised talks on the Mukden incident.

In Beijing, the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression displayed more than 400 documents that it claimed detailed how 40,000 Chinese were forced to work in Japan during the war.

"We are going to file lawsuits to the Japanese government to make them admit what they did, apologise and give compensation to the relatives of victims," Li Zongyuan, the deputy museum director, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

A video shown by the museum contained images of what it called shameless Japanese politicians visiting the Yasukuni war shrine, which commemorates more than two million Japanese war dead, including war criminals.

An English commentary released online by Xinhua said China and Japan could not discuss the current strained relations without mentioning history.

"The Japanese government's provocative remarks and attitudes towards history have only left tension simmering in mutual distrust, giving way easily to rivalry and hostility," it said.