Premier Wen Jiabao recounted stories yesterday of Japanese orphans being taken in by Chinese families during the second world war to underline the more positive aspects of Sino-Japanese history and to demonstrate that China was sincere about reconciling with Japan.
'We should learn and remember historical lessons from the past unfortunate years,' Mr Wen told the Diet, Japan's parliament.
'Our senior leaders have repeated that only a minority of the Japanese militarists should be blamed for the second world war-era atrocities because most Japanese people were also victims.'
He highlighted the case of Marshal Nie Rongzhen , who took care of a four-year-old Japanese girl for several weeks after rescuing her from a battlefield in 1940.
'Nie Rongzhen rescued the Japanese orphan Mihoko from the battlefield amid shellfire. He looked after her carefully and later sent her back to Japan,' Mr Wen said.
Mihoko Kakoi returned to China in 1980 with her family to visit Mr Nie and thank the Chinese.
More than 5,000 Japanese orphans left in China after the war were adopted by Chinese families.
Mr Wen said the adoption of Japanese orphans and the repatriation in 1945 of more than a million Japanese residents from Huludao , Liaoning province after Japan's surrender reflected the humanity of the Chinese.
Quoting from a contemporary memoir of a Japanese woman who passed through Huludao, Mr Wen said: 'Whether it was the food given by the needy Dongning villagers, or the sweet taste of Huludao oranges, all left a clear impression in my mind. The kind-hearted and generous Chinese people comforted our frightened souls and let us finally board the ship home.'