SIRENS wailed at 10am in Nanjing yesterday, 75 years after Japanese troops
embarked on mass killing and rape.
About 9,000 people from around the world attended a peace rally in the city to mark the Nanjing Massacre anniversary. Large wreaths were presented and China's national anthem sung, before people bowed three times and stood in silent tribute.
More than 300,000 people, including infants and the elderly, died in a spree of killing, rape and destruction in the six weeks after the Japanese military occupied China's then capital on December 13, 1937.
"It is the darkest part in modern civilization for human beings,'' Nanjing's Party chief Yang Weize said at the rally. "As we review history and mourn the dead, we engrave the lesson in our minds: 'Falling behind will make us suffer beating, only development can make us strong.'"
People from the United States, Canada, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Greece, Nepal, South Korea and Japan attended the rally held in a square in front of the Memorial Hall of the Victims for the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.
Earlier in the morning, 200 monks from Buddhist temples in Nanjing and Japan began a mantras chanting and praying ceremony in front of a wall on which victims' names are engraved.
More than 20,000 rapes of Chinese women by Japanese occurred during the massacre, according to documents from the memorial hall, which has collected 25,000 pieces of evidence. More than a third of buildings in the city were destroyed.
The testimonies of three living survivors have been documented by the Nanjing Massacre Research Association in line with the international oral history documentation standard since April.
Only about 200 of 1,213 massacre survivors located in a 1997 survey are alive today, the youngest being 75. Testimonies have been collected from 43 of the survivors.
Li Zhong, 87, said he can never forgive the Japanese, recalling how people had to restrain a man who grabbed a knife to kill Japanese soldiers after his wife was raped. "There are fewer and fewer of us survivors every year," he said. "We must never forget history."
Kai Satoru, son of a Japanese soldier who invaded China, was among the audience at the rally. "I am here to admit the crimes. They (Japanese soldiers) competed to kill people," he said.
A Japanese chorus group performed at the end of the peace rally.
Long Yang, a Nanjing citizen, cried as he listened to the song "The Story of Violet Orychophragmus" sung by the Japan Violet Orychophragmus Chorus.
The flower popular in Nanjing is said to have been taken to Japan by a Japanese soldier. The flower now thrives on Japanese soil.
Dozens of Japanese singers, most in their senior years, sang the chorus in Chinese. "The flower of peace, violet orychophragmus."
Yamaguchi Sayoko, a Japanese Buddhist believer, who came to the massacre anniversary to pray, said as a national from the country which started the war, she was "profoundly sorry for the victims killed during the war, the survivors and their families."