Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Nagoya's "negationist" mayor has reopened old wounds going back to the Nanjing (Nanking) massacre. China is threatening to stay away from celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the normalisation of Sino-Japanese relations. Despite an apology from the Japanese government, Beijing is still angry.
Addressing a delegation from Nanking led by Liu Zhiwei, Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, 63, said, "I doubt that the Nanking massacre happened, even though conventional acts of combat took place." The fact that "there is no witness [of the massacre] is quite substantive," he noted.
During Japan's invasion of China, Japanese troops captured the city in 1937 and slaughtered more than 150,000 Chinese civilians in the first two days. Tens of thousands of women were also raped.
The issue remained an open wound until Sino-Japanese relations were normalised in 1972.
The mayor's declaration stirred a hornet's nest. Nanjing suspended official contact with Nagoya in the wake of Kawamura's comments.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday that Beijing backed Nanjing's decision.
"The mayor's irresponsible statement distorted historical facts and seriously hurt China's people's feelings," said Luo Zhaohui, director general for Asian affairs in China's Foreign Ministry.