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President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders presided over a ceremony at the weekend to mark the 77th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre amid a drive to preserve memories of Japan’s brutal invasion and stir patriotism.
Addressing soldiers, students, and survivors of the December 1937 killings carried out by occupying Japanese troops, Mr Xi slammed Japanese ultra-nationalists who deny that the massacre took place.
“Those who uphold justice and love peace must be highly vigilant and firmly oppose those wrong words and deeds,” he said.
“History will not permit anyone who would deny the facts of the Nanjing atrocity.”
Official Chinese figures put the total of those slaughtered by the Japanese invaders at 300,000. About 20,000 women were raped over the six weeks of mass looting and arson.
China raised the profile of commemorations this year as part of three new holidays to mark major wartime events amid a downturn in China-Japan relations.
Participants at the ceremony and people in the city stood for one minute of silence at 10am as the world’s largest air-raid siren wailed.
Mr Xi said that the purpose of the event was to “arouse every kind person’s longing for and adherence to peace and not to perpetuate hatred.”
China has been angered recently by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to send troops for operations abroad and his visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, which honours convicted war criminals among the country’s war dead.
They include three of the top commanders executed for their role in the Nanjing massacre.
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