China declared Sept. 3 a national holiday this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the allied victory over Japan, the latest move by the Communist Party to focus attention on Japan’s wartime legacy.
The work holiday elevates the national “Victory Day” commemoration declared by China’s legislature last year. World War II commemorations this year have fueled new calls by China and South Korea for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to publicly atone for Japan’s aggression during the war.
President Xi Jinping plans to hold a military parade in September at the site Japan attacked in 1937 to trigger the Second Sino-Japanese War, people with direct knowledge of the plan said in March. Along with the World War II victory, the country last year set aside a day to remember the Nanking Massacre in 1937.
Hong Kong followed suit and proposed a one-time holiday Sept. 3 for the anniversary of “the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression.” The city, which was occupied by the Imperial Army during the war, celebrated Liberation Day on the last Monday of August until the British returned sovereignty to China in 1997.
In July 2013, Xi became the first Chinese leader to attend an official commemoration of the start of the Second Sino-Japanese war, which later became part of the global conflict. China also published an official list of 300 “Anti-Japanese Heroes” who died in the war.
The government in Beijing will invite world leaders to this year’s commemorations of China’s “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression as well as the World Anti-Fascist War,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Last week, Xi joined Russian President Vladimir Putin for a similar military parade in Moscow’s Red Square marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. The event was boycotted by Western leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
— With assistance by Keith Zhai