Nanjing memorial bill fight continues

By Na Li in Toronto | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-07-27 10:13

Bill 79 - the Nanjing Massacre Commemorate Day Act - still faces obstacles to win passage as a private bill in the Ontario Legislature, said its proponent, Member of Provincial Parliament Soo Wong.

The bill passed a second reading by three Ontario political parties last year and has already garnered 90,000 signatures.

A private bill is one that benefits particular individuals or groups.

"This bill is not just supported by the Chinese communities but by people from other ethnic groups and communities across Ontario," Soo said at a press conference on Monday in Toronto to update the status of the bill.

"The purpose of the bill is to make sure the young people know about and remember an important piece of human tragedy happened in Asia during the Second World War," she said.

Soo encouraged Ontarians to write their MPPs and talk about the bill with their neighbours and associates. She mentioned that the bill's fate is uncertain if it isn't passed by the next election.

Joseph Wong, chairman of Toronto ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia), said that if the bill doesn't get passed in the fall, it's virtually dead, with the next provincial election set for June 2018.

Wong called on the premier to take a moral stand and support the Bill 79.

"The two opposition leaders, Patrick Brown of the PC Party and Andrea Horwath of the NDP, have both declared their support, but Premier Kathleen Wynne still is reluctant to accept the bill," Wong said. "That is wrong."

He noted that the Ontario Legislature has passed bills to commemorate the Holocaust and Holodomor, both atrocities committed in Europe.

"Why just Europe? Why not Asia? Are Asian victims not worth remembering?" Wong asked. "We must show the Legislature our determination. And it's important to let the premier know that we perceive this as a racism issue."

Joy Kogawa, a novelist of Japanese descent, said she supports Bill 79 "out of love".

"The long denial from the Japanese community came from the fear of being hated, yet the continued denial would expose them to more hatred."

"I understand that some Japanese community members may not be ready for Bill 79 yet (but), I would rather ask them to open up and start dialogues about the history, with reconciliation being the ultimate goal," said Ren Ito, Japanese Canadian Youth Leader.


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