UPDATE1: China marks 75th anniversary of Nanjing massacre.
(EDS: UPDATING WITH ATTACK ON KYODO REPORTER, H.K. PROTEST)
Some 9,000 people including around 100 Japanese attended a ceremony here Thursday to observe the 75th anniversary of the start of the Nanjing massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking.
The ceremony, held at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in the former Chinese capital, is the first since the biggest flare-up of anti-Japan sentiment since at least 2005 over Tokyo's decision to buy the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands.
In addition, Nanjing suspended all public exchanges with Nagoya, a sister city, following Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura's controversial remarks on the Nanjing Massacre, one of the rawest Chinese wounds in the 1937-1945 Sino-Japanese War.
Kawamura told a visiting official from Nanjing in February what occurred over the six-week period following the Japanese capture of Nanjing in 1937 was "conventional acts of combat."
Zhu Chengshan, curator of the hall, said at a press conference prior to the ceremony that the territorial dispute and the Nanjing Massacre are both "issues of history."
"The facts of history must be viewed correctly," Zhu said.
While anti-Japan sentiment runs higher in Nanjing compared to other regions due to the background of the massacre, the city, which stresses its economic exchanges with Japan, is on alert for anti-Japan activities. When anti-Japan protests erupted across the country in 2005, Nanjing sought to contain such demonstrations.
However, in September when tens of thousands of anti-Japan demonstrators rallied across China following the Japanese government's purchase of most of the China-claimed Senkaku Islands from a private Japanese national, the city allowed a large-scale demonstration to be held.
At the end of the official functions of the ceremony, a Kyodo News reporter was attacked by Chinese people attending the ceremony. Although the reporter was in pain following the attack, he suffered no injuries.
The reporter, while writing an article on a personal computer he was carrying, was suddenly kicked from behind in the buttocks by a man in his 20s. In addition, a middle-aged man who was nearby yelled out, "You're Japanese, aren't you!" and yanked a muffler the reporter was wearing, momentarily compressing his neck.
Plainclothes police who were in the area restrained the men, but did not appear to take them away.
Meanwhile, a dozen activists staged a protest at the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong on Thursday.
"Japan has never admitted carrying out a massacre in Nanjing and we don't expect them to change," said David Ko, one of the protesters. "But we hope Japan will be civilized and understand that the territorial dispute stems from the war and return the islands to China."
Ko said Japan should give an official apology and appropriate compensation that is sanctioned by the Japanese emperor and the Diet for its war crimes towards victims of the Nanjing massacre, chemical warfare, and women forced into sexual slavery.
Japan and China are divided on the number of victims in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. China puts the number of people killed during the rampage at more than 300,000, while estimates by Japanese academics range from 20,000 to 200,000 dead.