Japan’s wartime deeds not easily forgotten in China

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A party member arranges a flower basket at Lugou Bridge, July 7, 2013. (Photo/Xinhua)

World War II may have ended 70 years ago, but in a southwest Beijing suburb where the Lugou bridge is located, residents daily relive battles the Chinese fought with Japanese invaders so long ago.

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On the night of July 7, 1937, Japanese troops stationed near the bridge (also known as Marco Polo bridge) demanded entry to nearby Wanping County on the pretext of searching for a missing soldier. The Chinese military rejected the order and the Japanese bombed the county seat and bridge.

The attack signaled the beginning of Japan’s full-scale invasion of China, even though Japan had invaded the Northeast in September 1931.

“It gives me great pain to come here,” said student Li Jie, 25, standing in front of pictures of disembowelled women at the nearby Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

“It is very tolerant of Premier Wen to go to Japan, considering our history and how much we suffered,” she added.

Premier Wen Jiabao flies to Tokyo on Wednesday, the first time a leader of China has visited its eastern neighbor and bitter wartime adversary in seven years.

While the trip marks a turning point in relations, there is still cautious support from some for Wen’s Japan visit.

“The Chinese people hope that Wen’s trip to Japan can help melt the ice, and gradually open up some of the disagreements and contradictions,” museum deputy curator Li Zongyuan told Reuters. But that does not mean the past should be swept under the carpet in the interests of diplomacy, he added.

“We must not forget history,” Li said. “These are questions that cannot be avoided.”

Story by Reuters and Xinhua.