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UNESCO Approves Documents on Nanjing Massacre

Documents from a harrowing time included in the Memory of the World Register


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) included China’s documents regarding the Nanjing Massacre on its new list of collections on the Memory of the World Register, published on October 9. Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, says in response to the recognition that China will ensure protection and circulation of these documents with the goodwill of remembering history, cherishing peace, and safeguarding human dignity.

Nanjing fell into the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army on December 13, 1937. Over a period of six weeks, the Japanese forces brutally sexually assaulted and murdered hundreds of thousands of Chinese—including soldiers and civilians. The death toll has been estimated at 300,000. Disputes over facts related to the case—among other conflicts—are key tensions in the Sino-Japanese relations. While the UNESCO’s inscription is welcomed in China, it has met with criticism in Japan. Tokyo’s foreign ministry questions the authenticity of the documents and the objectivity of UNESCO’s decision.

“Such decisions pose a problem for UNESCO, as an international organization, which should be neutral and impartial,” Japan’s foreign ministry said in an e-mailed statement to AFP.

The Japanese foreign ministry official also complains that UNESCO’s decision would worsen the ties between China and Japan at a crucial time before a planned trilateral summit between Japan, China, and South Korea.

The Memory of the World Register is part of UNESCO’s The Memory of the World Programme, founded in 1992, which aims to preserve humanity’s heritage and ensure access to heritage around the world. The documents are mainly housed in the Second Historical Archives of China, the Nanjing Municipal Archives, and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.


Cover Image from China Daily

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