The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in East China’s Jiangsu province will coordinate with the Canadian province of Ontario and share historical exhibits in support of Ontario’s proposed observation on Dec 13 of its first official commemorative day for the massacre victims.
On Thursday, Canada’s Ontario provincial parliament passed a nonbinding motion to designate Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day to remember the victims of the Nanjing Massacre. A bill to make the designation official awaits a third reading in the legislature.
Around 300,000 Chinese were killed in a six-week rampage that began on Dec 13, 1937, after Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then the capital of China.
Zhang Jianjun, curator of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, said the memorial hall will provide historical evidence and help organize commemorative activities to mark the day.
“It has significant meaning that a regional legislature in a Western country for the first time designates an official commemorative day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre,” said Zhang. “Ontario has a large population of Asian descent, but few histories of China and other Asian countries during World War II can be found in their school textbooks.”
“That’s why (Ontario legislator) Soo Wong and her partners proposed the motion – to engrave the miserable history into Asian-Canadians and remind people how precious peace is.”
Wong, the first female Chinese-Canadian to be elected to the Ontario legislature, introduced a bill last year to designate each Dec 13 as Nanjing Massacre Commemoration Day. The bill passed the second reading in December last year and faces a third reading in November or December.
If the bill is passed, Dec 13 will become an official commemorative day in Ontario. Under Canadian federal law, a motion, though nonbinding, shows the official viewpoint of the legislature.
“We firmly believe that the bill will be passed eventually,” said Harris Wang, president of the Nanjing Association of Canada, who is working to pass the bill. “No one voted against the motion at the parliament today, and we’ve collected about 100,000 signatures across Ontario to support the bill.
“The number of people’s signatures keeps increasing,” Wang said. “We hope that more Canadians can know the facts about Asia during World War II. We hope that more provinces in Canada and more countries in the world will designate Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day.”
According to Wang, some Japanese enterprises, communities and lawmakers have lobbied against the bill.
Zhang Sheng, a history professor with Nanjing University, said that not only Chinese people fell victims to the Japanese troops, but also people from many countries, including the United States, Britain and Denmark.
“Though UNESCO added the Nanjing Massacre to the Memory of the World Register in 2015, not many people know about it compared with Auschwitz concentration camp and the Hiroshima bombing,” Zhang said.
Wu Lisong, a lecturer at Nanjing University’s school of history, said: “I believe that anyone who visits the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall will be shocked at what they see. Commemorating the victims of the massacre not only shows respect to the deceased, but also reminds people to value human life.”
According to Wang, commemorative activities will be held across Canada on Dec 13 to mark the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.
“Eighty Chinese communities will work jointly to organize memorial activities and hold exhibitions of survivors’ testimonies and historical evidence,” Wang said.
He added that the Nanjing Association has asked Chinese communities in 80 other countries and regions to hold commemorative activities on Dec 13.
Wang Xin contributed to this story.