China held a memorial service on Monday to mark the 84th anniversary of the Nanking massacre by Japanese troops during World War II, amid rising Sino-Japanese tension . More than 3,000 people attended the ceremony, held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanking Massacre by Japanese Invaders in what is now called Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. Speaking at the ceremony, which was broadcast live on state broadcaster CCTV, Sun Chunlan, vice-premier and a Politburo member, said the service showed the will of the Chinese people to learn from history and their unswerving desire to follow a path of peaceful development. “Only by correctly understanding history can we grasp the way forward. We are willing to build a Sino-Japanese relationship that meets the requirements of the new era … and work with all peace-loving people in the world to build a world of lasting peace and universal security, common prosperity, openness and tolerance, cleanness and beauty,” she said. The day has always been a source of bitter grievance in China about wartime history. According to China’s official estimate, more than 300,000 civilians and soldiers were killed in the six weeks after Japanese troops entered Nanking, then the national capital, on December 13, 1937. The number is disputed by Japan, which only concedes that “the killing of a large number of non-combatants, looting and other acts occurred”. Japan says it is difficult to determine precise figures. Japan, US could not stand by if China invaded Taiwan, ex-PM Abe says A national day of commemoration was introduced by China’s top legislature in 2014, with President Xi Jinping attending the inaugural event and again in 2017, to mark its 80th anniversary . This year’s service was held at a time of tension between the two Asian neighbours. Last week, Beijing threatened to “reconsider” bilateral relations with Tokyo over recent comments by former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in support of Taiwan. Previously, there were hopes bilateral relations could at least warm slightly after Fumio Kishida, long known as a moderate politician, became Japan’s prime minister in October. Besides the memorial service, an array of activities was held across the country on Monday, including the exhibition of photos taken during World War II, film screenings in universities and vigils. Tom Han, 29, has lived in Nanjing for four years and works for a public transport company, helping to manage traffic. “It’s a bit busier than usual because the bus and subway stations near Yunjin Road [where the public ceremony was held] were closed,” he said, adding that he was so busy with meetings he didn’t hear the air defence alarm marking the occasion. He had visited the memorial museum when he was 15 years old, but it made little impression then. Han said he had complex feelings about China’s neighbour while also being a fan of Japanese brands, Japanese cookware and appliances. “[I have] a little bit of national hatred, I think, from history textbooks and mainstream film and television propaganda, but I only discuss it with people close to me. We would not do anything radical,” he said. “I hope that China and Japan can still deep cooperate with each other, it’s most beneficial to the people. Japan’s technology is really excellent.” Japan mulls not sending ministers to Beijing Olympics: sources China has been pushing for massacre survivors to be documented. In the 1980s, more than 1,000 were registered by the government, but by this week, only 61 are still alive . The memorial hall stores oral histories about the massacre and has established a digital database and profile for each survivor. Survivors and their families have written books about their experience during the massacre and grass-roots efforts have produced a documentary about “comfort women” , women forced to work in the Japanese military’s wartime brothels. Song Shaopeng, a professor of gender and politics at Renmin University of China, said that since the 1990s, the narratives of the comfort women had shifted from “sexual service” to “sexual violence. “The comfort women’s victimisation narratives are in line with the Chinese ‘victim nationalism’, thus making them visible as evidence of national oppression during a historical period of rising nationalist/patriotic discourse,” Song said.