By Xinhua writers Liang Saiyu, Han Xiaojing
BEIJING, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Tears flowed when Xia Shuqin, a survivor of the Nanjing Massacre, learned that the country plans to set a National Memorial Day for victims like her deceased relatives.
Seventy-six years after Japanese soldiers butchered her family and left her for dead, Xia, now 83, said the plan was heartening news.
Chinese lawmakers are mulling making December 13 a national memorial day to commemorate those killed by Japanese aggressors during the Nanjing Massacre in the 1930s.
The draft decision will be discussed at the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) which runs from Tuesday through Thursday.
Xia tearfully recounted how Japanese troops killed her whole family except for her and her four-year-old sister on Dec. 13, 1937.
"There are still Japanese who are bad," she said. "I will fight them to defend the facts despite my age."
Documents showed that Japanese imperial forces went on a six-week rape, slaughter and destruction spree killing more than 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers.
Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Nanjing Memorial Hall, said this is the first time legislation has been passed relating to memorial services. China's top leaders will take part, he added.
Memorial services in the name of the "Nanjing Massacre Peace Rally" are held every year in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
"This legislation of the memorial day is consistent with international practice and is in accordance with people's will, as well as a strong refutation against Japan's fallacy on the issue," according to Zhu.
Similar proposals to establish a national memorial day have been put to the NPC several times.
Zou Jianping, a deputy to the congress who raised the proposal in 2012, called the decision a "common aspiration of the people."
Similar memorials have been held annually in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp camp in Poland, Russia's World War II Memorial Stele and the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum of the United States, Zou noted
The NPC deputy said China's ties with Japan have long been harmed by Tokyo's failure to atone for the occupation and atrocities in China during WWII. Conservative Japanese politicians, such as former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro and Nagoya City Mayor Kawamura Takashi, and academics continue to deny that the Nanjing Massacre took place.
He said that the legislation is of special significance, as Sino-Japan relations have been hit by recent moves including the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and attempts to deny the massacre by a governor of Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
After perpetrating such crimes, Japan has neither reflected on its mistakes nor shown that it is grateful for the tolerance demonstrated by the victimized country, according to Zou.
Hurt by Japanese right-wingers' comments distorting and glorifying their felonies, soldiers who survived the war against the well-armed Japanese aggressors from 1937 to 1945 hailed the decision.
Tang Xin, a 98-year-old veteran who participated in the Battle of Western Yunnan in 1944, expressed his support for a memorial day dedicated to the Nanjing Massacre.
"The right-wing moves by the Abe Cabinet are devastating for neighboring countries, and they have aroused indignation among our veterans," Tang said, "therefore I think the timing of the proposal is perfect. It's a fightback against Japan's militarism."
Although he won't be able to attend the ceremony in Nanjing due to health reasons, Tang said he would participate in any related activities in his hometown in central China's Hunan Province.
"I saw hundreds of innocent people die on the street when the Japanese dropped bombs in Wuchang City of Hubei Province," the veteran explained. "I made my decision to join the army when a little girl died right in front of my eyes. Her body was blown up by a bomb and was left hard to recognize."
Tang said he couldn't even put his excitement into words when he heard the news about the designation of the national day. He believes that it is not only a way to remind the world of the crimes committed by Japanese but a means of forcing the younger generation in Japan to face history and clearly understand the Abe cabinet.
Tang's opinion was echoed by Wang Yaguang, a 100-year-old veteran who took part in several battles including the famous Battle of Kunlun Pass.
Wang said everyone who experienced the war would never forget its cruelty, urging that everyone "should remain vigilant against Japanese politicians who want to challenge the status quo of peace."
The centenarian said he will not hesitant to serve the country again if the Japanese start another war.
"Peace is not an empty word. The tragedy of past warfare teaches humans to cherish it, and it's our stance to show respect to war victims and hope for a peaceful world," said Zhu Chengshan.
"People need to learn from atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Nanjing Massacre. By enabling people to understand history through survivors' testimonies, we can create sustainable behavioral change in individuals as well as increase positive outcomes in the world," he added.
Xinhua reporters Cai Yugao, Jiang Fang, Panye, Tanchang also contributed to the story.