Japan lashes out at UN’s inscription of Nanjing massacre

Japan lashes out at UNESCO’s decision to inscribe documents of Nanjing massacre on its ‘Memory of the World register,’ accusing it of being ‘politicised’

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Chinese honor guard members march past the words "Victims 300,000" during a ceremony to mark China's first National Memorial Day at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in eastern China's Jiangsu province Nanjing on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014

Japan heavily critisised UNESCO’s decision on Saturday to archive all documents accounting to the Nanjing massacre in its "Memory of the World register," characterising the event as “extremely regrettable” while pushing for the registration process to be amended.

Tokyo pushed for the Nanjing documents not be incorporated within the registration process, while accusing UNESCO on Saturday of being “politicised.”

“It is extremely regrettable that a global organisation that should be neutral and fair entered the documents in the 'Memory of the World register,' despite the repeated pleas made by the Japanese government,” Tokyo’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“As a responsible member of UNESCO, the Japanese government will seek a reform of this important project, so that it will not be used politically,” the statement added.

The UN’s cultural and scientific section agreed on Friday to a total of 47 new registrations which include a demand made by Beijing to incorporate documents recording the mass murder and rape of the people in the Chinese city Nanjing, that was committed by Japanese soldiers following the collapse of the city in 1937.

The new inscriptions were agreed upon during a three-day meeting that was held in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, following a two-year process of meetings by experts from 40 countries assigned with examining prospective candidates.

The massacre, also attributed to as the “Rape of Nanjing,” is an exceptionally delicate topic which often sparks many controversies regarding the strained relations between Japan and China, with Beijing accusing Tokyo of not stepping up and taking liability for their atrocities.

During the 1930s, China saw an invasion by the Japanese military troops which incited a full-scale war from 1937 until Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945.

Following the entry of the Japanese soldiers into the city of Nanjing, China says that 300,000 people lost their lives within a six-week spree of killing, rape and destruction, even though some respected foreign academics estimate that the number was much lower.

Chinese students lights candles to pray for victims of the Nanjing Massacre on its 74th anniversary.

China historian Jonathan Spence, predicts the number of deaths would have amounted to  42,000 soldiers and citizens and 20,000 women raped, but many of whom eventually died.

However, Spence’s estimations have been highly objected in Japan and called for questioning, particularly among some conservatives and nationalists.

Tokyo’s official stance regarding Nanjing is that “the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other acts occurred,” however, “it is difficult to determine” the precise and exact number of victims.

A senior executive at Japan’s publicly funded TV broadcaster NHK rejected the existence of the massacre in February, describing its accounts as “propaganda.”

In April, Japan dismissed protests of newly published textbooks following complaints that the country had failed to use the word “massacre,” instead, preferring to use the term ”incident” when addressing the mass slaughter of Chinese civilians in Nanjing.

"The Memory of the World register" was established in 1992 in the hopes of preserving humanity’s documentary heritage - recommended by the International Advisory Committee and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO - currently contains 348 documents and archives registered of events that occurred in countries all over the world.

UNESCO director, Irina Bokova said in a statement, “it is my deep and firm conviction that the Memory of the World programme should be guided in its work to preserve documentary heritage and memory for the benefit of present and future generations in the spirit of international cooperation and mutual understanding, building peace in the minds of women and men.”

TRTWorld and agencies