China mulls days to remember defeat of Japan, Nanjing Massacre

BEIJING (AFP) - China is considering designating formal days of remembrance to commemorate Japan's defeat in World War II and the Nanjing Massacre, state media reported on Tuesday, amid bitter disputes over territory and history.

The National People's Congress (NPC) is mulling making September 3 "Victory Day of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression", the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the legislature.

Lawmakers are also considering designating December 13 as a "national memorial day to commemorate those killed by Japanese aggressors during the Nanjing Massacre in the 1930s", Xinhua reported.

In both cases, a "draft decision" will be debated during a bi-monthly session of the NPC Standing Committee from Tuesday until Thursday, Xinhua added.

The rubber-stamp parliament is scheduled to meet next month in full session, but the standing committee has the authority to pass legislation on its own.

The NPC's website did not immediately carry information on the proposal, which comes amid a serious worsening in relations between China and Japan.

Beijing and Tokyo are at odds over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but claimed by China. Ships and planes from both countries warily eye each other in nearby waters and skies, leading to fears of miscalculation and possible conflict.

Tensions worsened further in late December when nationalist Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine - which commemorates Japan's war dead as well as convicted war criminals from World War II.

China and South Korea see the shrine as a reminder of Japan's 20th century aggression and colonialism.

The day to commemorate Japan's defeat "must be set through legislative procedures to reflect the will of the Chinese people and remind us of the need to remember history, cherish peace and create a better future," said Mr Li Shishi, director of the NPC Standing Committee's legislative affairs commission, according to Xinhua.

Japan invaded China in the 1930s and the two sides fought a full-scale war from 1937-1945, part of the broader Second World War.

China says 300,000 civilians and soldiers died in what has come to be known as the "Rape of Nanjing", a spree of killing, sexual assault and destruction over six weeks after the Japanese military entered the country's then-capital on December 13, 1937.

Though some foreign academics put the number of deaths much lower, no respected mainstream historians dispute that a massacre took place.

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