BEIJING: The Chinese government suggested on Friday that the atrocities committed by Japan in Nanjing during the World War II were more worthy of remembrance than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued an statement in the wake of a historic visit by US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima saying that the massacre of civilians by Japanese troops in the city of Nanjing deserved greater reflection.
The trip is the first visit to the city by a sitting American President since the world was first shown the potential key to its own destruction in a bombing that claimed the lives of 140,000 people.
“Hiroshima is worthy of attention. But even more so Nanjing should not be forgotten,” the ministry’s website cited him as saying.
“Victims deserve sympathy, but perpetrators should never shirk their responsibility,” told a huddle of reporters, state broadcaster CCTV showed.
China says 300,000 people died in a six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction after the Japanese military entered Nanjing in 1937, although some respected academics put the number lower.
China historian Jonathan Spence, for example, estimates that 42,000 soldiers and citizens were killed and 20,000 women raped, many of whom later died.
The state-run China Daily newspaper declared in an editorial on Thursday that the “atomic bombings of Japan were of its own making”. It accused present-day Japanese officials of “trying to portray Japan as the victim of World War II rather than one of its major perpetrators”.