Nanking massacre memorial day should be international event, says NPC delegate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 8:19pm

A National People’s Congress (NPC) delegate who has been lobbying for a memorial day to mark the Nanking massacre wants state leaders to attend and turn it into an international event.

Vice-President of the Nanjing Municipal People’s Congress Zou Jianping told the Beijing News  he hoped "at least one state leader attends” and suggested at least one vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress or a vice-chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the central government was mulling whether to make September 3 the “Victory Day of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” marking the day after Japan’s surrender in the second world war on September 2, 1945. They are also considering making December 13 a “national memorial day to commemorate those killed by Japanese aggressors during the Nanking massacre”.

Zou has previously submitted three proposals to the NPC to establish a national day of remembrance for the massacre also known as the “rape of Nanking”, with the last application in 2012.

“I think a lot of normal people all feel the same at that time every year: that history should not be forgotten. As an NPC delegate, I have a duty to give a voice to the people,” he said.

China says 300,000 civilians and soldiers were killed in the then capital over six weeks of rape, slaughter and destruction in 1937.

In the past, a memorial was hosted by the local government, but Zou said a national memorial would change the date from a day of humiliation to a day of remembrance, and show the world that China was determined to remember its history and safeguard peace.

Zou said China had been slower than other countries in commemorating Nanking, comparing the situation to other countries’ responses to second world war massacres, for example the Auschwitz concentration camp, which has memorial halls with national status listed as Unesco Memories of the World, as well as having national memorial days dedicated to it.

Earlier this month China said it would consider listing documents of Japanese atrocities during the Nanking massacre with a UN heritage programme, as it stepped up its international advocacy campaign about the history of the second world war.

Meanwhile Kyodo news agency also reported that Chinese lawyers were considering filing lawsuits against Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi, to seek compensation for victims of wartime forced labour.