Nanjing victims memorialized

Updated: 2015-12-14 11:55

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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A memorial service to mourn the victims of the Nanjing Massacre committed by the Japanese military during World War II was held on Dec 12 in San Francisco, as about 300 activists and Chinese community members gathered to recall the history.

Organized by the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, the Chinese American Association of Commerce and the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (GA), the annual event entered its 20th year.

"The aim is to expose the Japanese Army's war crimes and encourage all the overseas Chinese and people of conscience to understand and remember the history," said Ignatius Ding, executive vice-president of GA.

 Nanjing victims memorialized

Li Min (sixth from right), deputy consul general of Chinese embassy in Washington, together with representatives from the Chinese communities, mourns to the victims of Nanjing Massacre in Germantown, Maryland on Sunday. In 2014, China designated Dec 13 National Memorial Day for Victims of the Nanjing Massacre. Dong Leshuo / China Daily

Seventy-eight years ago, Japanese troops captured Nanjing, China's then capital, on Dec 13 of 1937, commencing a slaughter that lasted more than 40 days. More than 300,000 people were murdered and about 20,000 women were raped.

From the time Japan invaded northeast China in September 1931, followed by a full-scale invasion that started on July 7, 1937, around 35 million Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed or injured during the Japanese occupation, which continued until 1945.

"But this chapter of history is little known to the Western public," said Ding. "We realize it's very important to educate the public, especially the younger generation."

This year, students of a San Francisco-based Chinese school were invited to the memorial, where an English-language documentary on the Nanjing Massacre was played, and historians and activists told of the Japanese Army's atrocities inflicted upon Asian countries, including the "comfort women", mostly young Chinese and Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.

Nanjing victims memorialized

"Every year since 2001, we organize an educational tour for American students and teachers to visit the memorial hall for the massacre victims in Nanjing, and the massacre survivors as well as historians in Shandong, Hunan, Zhejiang and other provinces," said Ding.

During the event, the organizers also briefed participants on the recent inscription of the Nanjing Massacre historical documents on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, a compendium aimed at preserving documented heritage of universal value.

The massacre had become part of the world's memory, proving the Japanese Army's atrocities were irrefutable facts, said Ding.

The GA contributed its own documents and exhibits donated by individuals to support China's application to the UNESCO program, and it is now working to support the application of "comfort women" to the same program in 2017, according to Ding.

"In the past 20 years, we have learned a lot - we need to reach beyond the Asian community to win support of other ethnic groups," he said. "We have established relationships with Jews, African Americans, as well as women activists and veterans' groups."

In February 2014, China's top legislature designated Dec 13 as National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims.

(China Daily USA 12/14/2015 page2)