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History not a fiction, Friendship not a tool

History not a fiction, Friendship not a tool

The mayor of a major Japanese city told a visiting Chinese official that he doubted the infamous Nanjing massacre happened. “Mass murder and rape of civilians in Nanjing is a fiction,” mayor of the Japanese city of Nagoya, Takashi Kawamura, said on Feb. 20 to Liu Zhiwei, a visiting member of the Nanjing Communist Party committee. At a Monday meeting with the visiting Chinese official, Kawamura said that he believed only "conventional acts of combat" took place in Nanjing.

The remarks immediately draw fire from the wrathful Chinese public, who believe that Japan has yet to acknowledge and apologize for the scale of the wartime atrocities carried out by the then Japanese imperial troops, of which Nanjing is the most notorious example. This serves as a reminder of many unbearable incidents over the years, which gravely hurt feelings of the Chinese people-- Some Japanese right-wing politicians twisted history, visited the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war criminals of WWII have been worshipped, despite China’s strong opposition, thus sending chill to Sino-Japanese ties. And also a controversial textbook, written by some right-wing inspired scholars for junior high schools, distorted and whitewashed Japan's past history of aggression.

Hong Lei, spokesman for Chinese Foreign Ministry, said there was irrefutable proof of the murder of hundreds of thousands by the Japanese army, and Kawamura's remarks were unacceptable from the Chinese government's point of view. He urged Japan to "learn from the lessons of history and aim for sound development" of its relations with China based on them.

History is not a fiction, which cannot be fabricated nor distorted, and should be respected by any responsible country. It is already an iron-clad fact confirmed at the end of WWII by Far East International Military Tribunal, Nanjing Military Court, and the international community as a whole.

As to the sister-city relationship between Nanjing and Nagoya, which established in 1978, the same Kawamura also expressed his willingness to maintain friendly relations between the two cities.

But, it is absurd that, after a 33-year friendship, the mayor of a “sister city” still made such provocative remarks on the major issues of principle, underplayed and even neglected what actually happened in Nanjing. After capturing Nanjing during the Sino-Japanese war in 1937, Japanese soldiers embarked on an orgy of rape and murder, with China estimating that 300,000 people were killed.

This is by no means the first time that the Japanese mayor in question made irresponsible remarks on the gory history. In September 2009, Kawamura told a session of the Nagoya city assembly that he had doubts about the number of casualties in the Nanjing Massacre.

Perhaps, the side of Nanjing needs to re-measure a mayor like Kawamura, from a sister city, though, and not only make a sound judgment but also a general prediction, to foresee whether Kawamura’s nonsense could adversely influence sister-city relationship between the two cities, and how the Chinese visiting delegation reply to and refute the provocation of such kind if the same bitter encounter recurs.

Now that Nanjing has decided to temporarily suspend any contact with Nagoya, the incident, meanwhile, sounds an alarm to many other cities and officials, calling for them to wake up to the basic question—What message should be delivered to each other between sister cities, and in what way can they communicate with each other?

Sincerity and goodwill are prerequisites for the establishment of sister-city relationship, and should never be beclouded by utilitarianism and short-term interests. True friendship between cities is not simply interpreted as a tool serving only economic exchanges, but more of a principle binding for both.

In a nutshell, city-to-city diplomacy is conducive to broadening the cooperative sphere between cities, improving both by borrowing ideas and taking examples from each other, and enhancing personnel exchanges. But all this has to be built on mutual respect and trust, and the sentimental attachment to each other’s culture and people. To achieve this, both should bear in mind to respect history as it is, and refrain from hurting people’s feelings of the other party.

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Rape of history!

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