NANJING, China — China pressed a propaganda campaign against Japan this week with a guided visit to the site of the 1937 Nanjing massacre, holding up proof to refute doubts by some in Japan about the extent of the atrocity or even that it happened at all.
China’s ties with Japan have long been poisoned by what China calls “Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during World War II.”
China is determined to sustain the memories.
Japanese leaders have made repeated apologies for the suffering that Japan’s Imperial Army inflicted but remarks by conservative politicians have cast doubt on Japan’s sincerity.
Japanese troops battling Chinese forces captured Nanjing in late 1937. The city, then known as Nanking, was the Chinese capital.
In the weeks that followed, Japanese troops killed 300,000 people, according to the country. A post-war Allied tribunal pegged the death toll at 142,000.
China’s anger over the past is never far from the surface of relations that have deteriorated sharply over the past 18 months because of a dispute over a chain of islands in the East China Sea.
Ships from both countries shadow each other around the islets and Japan has scrambled jets numerous times in response to Chinese aircraft, raising fears of a clash.
Ties have worsened since China demarcated an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea and a visit in December by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine honoring war criminals among the war dead.