A Chinese nongovernmental organization has sent a letter to Japan’s prime minister calling on his government to apologize to the victims of a wartime massacre almost 80 years ago and pay compensation, the group’s president said Monday.
The China Federation of Demanding Compensation from Japan said the letter coincided with a new commemoration day on Saturday to mark the 1937 massacre of civilians by Japanese forces in Nanjing. The commemoration day was created as part of Beijing’s campaign to remind the world of past Japanese aggression because of what it calls renewed militarism by the country.
“We used to demand an apology in general terms. But this is the first time a Chinese NGO has specifically demanded the Japanese government apologize for the 300,000 victims of the Nanjing massacre,” the Beijing-based group’s president, Tong Zeng, told The Associated Press. “A month ago, it suddenly dawned on me that we should do this.”
Tong said the group sent the letter to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last week. An embassy press officer said the letter was received but had no further information.
Historians say the massacre in the eastern city now known as Nanjing resulted in the slaughter of at least 150,000 civilians. China puts the number killed at 300,000, making it one of the worst atrocities of the World War II era. Many Chinese feel Japan has failed to adequately apologize for its brutal World War II occupation of much of their country.
Tong said his was a loosely organized group with more than 100 informal event organizers across China.
Relations between the two countries, which are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment, have worsened in the past few years over disputed islands in the East China Sea, Japanese politicians’ visits to a Tokyo shrine honoring war dead, and remarks seen as minimizing Japan’s war guilt.
This story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.