A MOURNING MOMENT: Students hold candles to mourn the victims of Nanjing Massacre during China's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, on December 13 (SHEN PENG)
A state ceremony was held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, on December 13 to commemorate those who died during the crime. It was for the country's first National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims.
"It was an atrocious crime and a dark page in the history of humanity," Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the state commemoration. "Anyone who tries to deny the massacre will not be allowed by history, the souls of the 300,000 deceased victims, the 1.3 billion Chinese people, and all people who love peace and justice in the world."
On December 13, 1937, invading Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then China's capital, and began a slaughter that lasted more than 40 days. The death toll of the atrocities reached over 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers with 20,000 Chinese women subjected to sexual assault.
In February this year, China's top legislature designated December 13 as the National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims so that the nation can mourn those killed by the Japanese invaders. The move was aimed at commemorating the calamities the war caused for the Chinese people and people around the world, conveying the Chinese people's firm stance of resisting aggression and safeguarding human dignity and world peace, according to the decision passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
The memorial ceremony started at 10 a.m. on December 13. A total of 10,000 representatives of all walks of life present at the ceremony paid silent tribute for one minute to the massacre victims as sirens howled over the city.
Sixteen honor guards laid eight wreaths in memory of the victims while the national flag flew at half-mast. Seventy-seven students read the declaration of peace.
Xi, along with Xia Shuqin, an 85-year-old survivor from the event, and a school child, unveiled a memorial ding, a type of ancient Chinese cauldron symbolizing state power and prosperity, during the ceremony. The three-legged bronze ding will be permanently placed at the square of the hall.
"The purpose of the memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims is to recall that every good-hearted person yearns for and holds a firm stance of peace, but does not try to prolong hatred," Xi said.
The Chinese and Japanese people should live in friendship from generation to generation and work together to contribute to the peace of humanity, he said.
"We should not bear hatred against an entire nation just because a small minority launched aggressive crusades. The responsibility for war crimes lies with a few militarists, but not the people. However, we cannot at any time forget the severe crimes committed by aggressors," he said.
People who love peace and justice must remain highly cautious and firmly oppose words and actions that glorify war, he added.
In his speech, Xi expressed thanks to those of other nationalities who protected Nanjing residents and recorded the atrocities of the Japanese invaders, despite the risks.
German businessman John Rabe, Bernhard Arp Sindberg from Denmark, and U.S. priest John Magee were among the foreigners attending.
It is the third time this year President Xi has attended high-level activities related to Japanese aggression toward China.
He attended a ceremony on July 7 to mark the start of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in 1937, as well as a victory day celebration on September 3 for the 69th anniversary of the victory against Japanese aggression.
On the September 3 victory day, Xi criticized some Japanese political organizations and politicians who have challenged human conscience by denying the crimes, paying homage to the spirits of war criminals, and glorifying aggression and colonial rule.
China hopes that the Japanese Government and politicians will show respect to the people of neighboring countries and acknowledge the millions of victims in the war, he noted.
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.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government also held a ceremony to mark the first National Memorial Day on December 13.