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China sends conciliatory message to Japan on Nanjing massacre anniv.

China sent out a conciliatory message to Japan on Tuesday during a ceremony to mark the 85th anniversary of the 1937 massacre in Nanjing committed by Japanese troops, with a top leadership member calling on the two Asian countries to draw lessons from history.

Cai Qi, who became the first member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee to attend the annual ceremony in five years, said in a speech the massacre was an “inhumane and shocking crime,” but the two Asian neighbors should “be sincere and have trust” toward each other.

His remarks at the national memorial ceremony in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province are believed to reflect a recent improvement in bilateral ties as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic relations.

China holds a national memorial ceremony to mark the 85th anniversary of the 1937 massacre in Nanjing in the city in Jiangsu Province on Dec. 13, 2022. (CNS/Kyodo)

Cai said bilateral cooperation and exchanges over the past 50 years have “brought happiness to the people of the two countries and promoted regional peace and development,” adding Beijing and Tokyo should “build a relationship that meets the requirements of the new era.”

The speech comes in the wake of an agreement last month during summit talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Bangkok, in which the two leaders pledged to seek to establish “constructive and stable” ties and promote dialogue between the leaders and ministers.

Survivors of the killing and military officials were among the roughly 3,000 participants of the service held at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders. They sang the national anthem and observed a minute of silence while sirens were heard across the city.

In 2014, China designated Dec. 13 as a national memorial day. The total number of registered survivors has fallen to 54, with their average age being about 92, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

No one from the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of Chinese politics, had appeared for the ceremonies since President Xi Jinping attended the memorial event in 2017.

The scale of Japanese troops’ killing of civilians and soldiers while capturing Nanjing, then the capital of the Nationalist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek, and during the several weeks that followed, has been the subject of much debate.

China claims the Japanese army slaughtered more than 300,000 people in the city, formerly called Nanking. In contrast, Japanese historians’ estimates of the death toll of Chinese civilians and soldiers vary from the tens of thousands to 200,000.

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