Nanjing Massacre bill gains steam

By Na Li in Toronto | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-12-13 11:57

Nanjing Massacre bill gains steam

The legislature in the Canadian province of Ontario is considering designating Dec 13 as Nanjing Massacre Remembrance Day.

Bill 79, the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day Act, passed a second reading last Thursday in the Ontario Legislature. The bill received a unanimous voice vote from all three parties and will now be referred to the standing committee of justice policy.

The act would be the first legislation across North America or Europe that commemorates the Nanjing Massacre. As a private members' public bill introduced by members who are not ministers, it needs to pass the first reading, second reading, committee, report to the House, third reading and royal assent before coming into force.

If passed, Dec 13 will be designated Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day in Ontario.

"It's about a day to remember, to honor the victims and families affected by the Nanjing Massacre, to make sure this history cannot be repeated itself," said Soo Wong, member of provincial parliament who led the motion. "It is also to make sure Ontarians, especially the 2.6 million Asian Ontarians, are familiar with the history."

Wong said that most Ontarians are quite familiar with World War II in Europe, but few, especially among the youth of Asian heritage, are familiar with the war's history in Asia.

"We hope to provide the education through establishing Nanjing Massacre Remembrance Day," Wong said.

As one of the most diverse provinces in Canada, Ontario is recognized as an inclusive society. Ontario is also the home of one of the largest Asian populations in Canada. Some current Ontarians have direct relationships with victims and survivors of the Nanjing Massacre.

"I have been a supporter of the efforts made over the years to improve the awareness in Canada," said Bob Rae, member of the House of Commons. "World War II was a world war, it involved Europe and Asia. We Canadians need to bring understanding and awareness of the tragedy that took place in Asia."

"In 2007, when the former New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Olivia Chow made a motion in Ottawa to urge the Japanese government not to deny history and to apologize for 'comfort women 'victims, [Japanese factions] lobbied MPs in Ottawa. But the bill was passed by all the MPs in the end," said Joseph Wong, founder of ALPHA Education, an educational organization that promotes investigation of the events of World War II in Asia.

"It will always be controversial," said Rae. "We shouldn't be afraid of it. We have to do everything we can to promote awareness and understanding of what took place."

"An Ontario calendar day to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre will bring well-deserved attention to this poorly known historical event and in doing so, serve the interests of all Ontarians," said author Erna Paris, a member of the Order of Canada.

On Dec 13, 1937, Japanese Imperial forces invaded the Chinese city of Nanjing, initiating a six-week-long massacre that has become infamous among historians as one of the most horrific atrocities of modern history. The death toll reached 300,000.

Those who survived continued to suffer psychologically and physically.



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