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UPDATED: December 19, 2014 NO. 52 DECEMBER 25, 2014
Refusing to Forget
Commemorative activities show China forgives but does not forget
By Yin Pumin

Led by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, about 100 people, including senior government officials, judicial officers, Legislative Council members and representatives of war veterans attended the ceremony.

The ceremony commenced at 9 a.m. local time at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense. All participants paid two minutes of silent tribute before Leung laid a wreath to the massacre victims.

The participants then visited a photo exhibition of the Nanjing Massacre, which records the atrocities that Japanese aggressors committed against the Chinese people.

Lin Zhen, 79, who began guerrilla fighting at the age of 9, recalled the sufferings of Hong Kong people during the war.

"The same as Nanjing Massacre victims, many Hong Kong people were slaughtered by Japanese aggressors. We can feel their pain. We will never forget that part of history," she said.

Activities across the border

At the same time, some Japanese civil groups also held memorial meetings on the day to spread the truth about Nanjing Massacre and mourn the victims.

At the meeting held in front of the stone lions of Osaka Castle Park in the afternoon, Iseki, one of the organizers and member of the Osaka Stone Lions Association, said that Japan should reflect on its history of aggression and value peace.

"Nowadays some Japanese people avoid talking about or even deny the atrocities that the Japanese army committed in China during World War II, and that is wrong. Only by facing up to history, can we deal with the relationship between Japan and China in the right way and develop the friendship between the two peoples," Iseki said.

The stone lions in Osaka Castle Park were taken from China by the Japanese invaders in 1937. In the 1980s, many Japanese citizens demanded the stone lions be returned to China. Later, the Chinese Government gave the stone lions to the Osaka City as a gift to commemorate friendship between the two peoples.

"It is of special significance to hold such a gathering in front of the stone lions, as they were both witness of the invasion and a token of friendship between the two peoples," said Iseki.

Yamahashi, also a member of the Osaka Stone Lions Association, brought his daughter to the meeting.

"I know a few veterans who took part in the war invading China. They told me about the atrocities they committed in China. After I learned the truth about the war, I knew I had to do something," he said.

The same night, about 100 people attended a memorial meeting for Nanjing Massacre victims in the Osaka Prefecture Youth Center.

At the meeting, a video of a Japanese veteran being interviewed was played to the audience. The veteran recalled the atrocities he committed in China during the war and talked about his remorse. After that, representatives of two civil groups gave speeches, revealing how the Japanese right-wing forces tried to hide the truth about "comfort women" and the war.

A survivor's testimony

On December 7, Ai Yiying, one of the around 200 living survivors of the Nanjing Massacre, shared her memory of the incident with Japanese residents at a testimony meeting in Osaka, conveying the truth about Nanjing Massacre.

The 86-year-old woman was still a little girl when Nanjing was invaded by the Japanese army in December 1937. "I was only 9 years old. One day, the Japanese soldiers came to my village, raped and killed people and burned houses," Ai recalled.

Ai's father, uncles and cousins were taken away from their home by the Japanese soldiers. Six of them were killed, and one severely injured. The rest of the family had to hide in the woods to avoid the raping and killing.

"The atrocities continued in the following months. There were dead bodies everywhere. I was afraid of dead bodies. But my mother told me what was frightening was not the dead bodies, but the Japanese soldiers, who killed them," Ai said.

Ai was invited by the Chinese War Victims Testimony Meeting Committee in Japan to share her story. More than 100 Japanese residents attended the testimony meeting. When Ai finished telling her experience, all attendants of the meeting stood up and mourned in silence for the victims of Nanjing Massacre.

The testimony meeting has been an annual tradition since 1994. So far, a total of 51 survivors have attended the testimony meetings in 36 different groups.

"It's been 77 years. We shall always remember this history, and by doing that, value peace and warn people never to let such tragedy happen again," Ai said.

In China, a project of publishing oral testimonies of 100 Nanjing Massacre survivors began in September.

"The most powerful evidence is no doubt the narrations of survivors themselves," said Fei Zhongxing, a researcher on the Nanjing Massacre.

Email us at: yinpumin@bjreview.com

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