‘Only by understanding history can we grasp the way forward’: China marks 84th anniversary of Nanking Massacre

Nanking Massacre Anniversary

On Monday, China held a ceremony commemorating the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). 

Remembering the dead: Marking the 84th anniversary of the Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre, the memorial service attracted over 3,000 people in Nanjing, China’s former capital in Jiangsu Province, reported South China Morning Post

  • In 2014, China designated Dec. 13 as the national day of remembrance for massacre victims. China’s official estimates indicate that over 300,000 people died during the Nanking Massacre of the Second Sino-Japanese War. 
  • The recent memorial service was conducted at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanking Massacre by Japanese Invaders, a site containing oral histories and a digital database with profiles for survivors.
  • Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, the only female member of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 25-member Politburo, highlighted the significance of learning from history, saying that “only by correctly understanding history can we grasp the way forward.”
  • While the event was held amid escalating tension between China and Japan, Sun expressed her country’s willingness 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.” 
  • Chinese people across the country participated in the event by attending local film screenings, vigils and photo exhibits, among others.

Remembering the killings: The massacre, also known as the “Rape of Nanking,” happened in a span of six weeks after Japanese soldiers captured the city of Nanking on Dec. 13, 1937, as NextShark previously reported. 

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  • Imperial Japanese troops carried out widespread looting, rape and killing toward unarmed Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants during the period. 
  • While Japan disputes China’s figures, it has admitted that “the killing of a large number of non-combatants, looting and other acts occurred.”
  • Among the more than 1,000 survivors China registered in the 1980s, only 61 remain alive today.
  • The late journalist Iris Chang chronicled the events of the massacre in harrowing detail in her bestselling book, “The Rape of Nanking.” 
  • “Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls,” Chang wrote. “Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced…  So sickening was the spectacle that even Nazis in the city were horrified.”

In a 2015 speech on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country maintained “feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology” for the government’s wartime actions.

Featured Image via South China Morning Post

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