Sept. 3 may be designated a victory day and Dec. 13 a national memorial day for victims of Nanjing, Xinhua said yesterday, citing draft decisions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The actual number of Chinese killed in the weeks after Japanese forces captured Nanjing in 1937 is in dispute. China estimates the figure at 300,000, with some Japanese nationalists denying the massacre occurred at all.
The lawmakers’ decision may further escalate tensions with Japan after Shinzo Abe in December became the first sitting prime minister to visit the Yasukuni Shrine since 2006. The Tokyo shrine honors Japan’s war-dead, including convicted World War II criminals, and is considered a symbol of past Japanese militarism in China and South Korea.
Sino-Japanese relations have deteriorated since Japan’s government in September 2012 purchased islands in the East China Sea also claimed by China. Coast guard vessels from the two countries regularly tail each other in waters around the islands and, in November, China established an air defense identification zone over the islands, demanding that aircraft file flight plans with it before entering the area.
“We are aware that there are various debates about the facts of the Nanking incident,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters today in Tokyo, using the previous name for Nanjing. “It can’t be denied that after the former Imperial troops entered Nanking, civilians were killed and there was looting.”
China’s plans to make the events are basically a domestic matter, Suga said.
Abe’s visit to the war shrine, which came a month after China set up the air zone, was condemned by China and South Korea. The U.S., Japan’s ally, said it was disappointed in Abe’s decision to go to the site. During his first time as prime minister in 2006-2007, Abe stayed away from the shrine.
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Feiwen Rong in Beijing at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at firstname.lastname@example.org