China’s top legislature is considering designating two new national days to mark victory against Japan at the end of World War II and commemorate the killing of civilians in the city of Nanjing while under Japanese occupation, it was officially announced on Tuesday evening.
The announcement, made at the end of the first session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Tuesday, is likely to further heighten tension between Beijing and Tokyo entangled in a dispute over a cluster of islands in the East China Sea.
The dispute which flared in 2012 has repeatedly brought up the two countries’ violent past when Japan occupied large swathes of China.
China accuses Japan of committing large-scale war crimes including a massacre of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province in eastern China, during its occupation.
It also accuses Japan of enslaving Chinese women, forcing them to become “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers.
On Tuesday, it was announced that September 3 was expected to be designated as China’s victory day against Japan. December 13 will be marked as the memorial day for the Nanjing massacre victims, the official news agency, Xinhua, reported.
“September 3 is expected to be the victory day and December 13 the national memorial day for massacre victims, according to two draft decisions submitted for review at the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress which runs from Tuesday through Thursday,” Xinhua said.
“It is extremely necessary to set the days through legislative procedures to reflect the will of the Chinese people,” said Li Shishi, director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, while reporting to the legislative body.
He added that lawmakers, political advisors and people from all walks of life have repeatedly proposed setting the two dates as national days.
China also expressed unease on Tuesday about Japan’s plan to reverse a weapons export ban.
“Against the backdrop of an intensifying swing to the right for Japanese politics, the intention behind and effect of massively loosening restrictions on the export of weapons really worries people,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
“We hope that Japan can really learn the lessons of history, respect and face up to the legitimate and reasonable security concerns of its Asian neighbors and ... take real steps to promote regional peace and stability,” Hua said.