By Horace Lu
Nanjing has suspended its sister-city relationship with Nagoya in response to the denial of the Nanjing Massacre by its mayor.
Receiving Liu for a visit to Nagoya on February 20, Takashi Kawamura had claimed that the wartime atrocities of Japanese troops against Nanjing civilians did not occur, with only a battle between Chinese Nationalist and Japanese forces before the city was taken.
Japanese records of the meeting confirm that Liu said nothing to refute Kawamura’s claims during a ceremony in which they exchanged gifts and shook hands.
The Foreign Ministry has backed Nanjing’s decision to suspend all official relationship with Nagoya. In a regular press briefing on February 22, Hong Lei, foreign ministry spokesperson, said “we express understanding and support for this [decision] and are keeping a close watch over the issue”. The ministry has also lodged an official complaint to the Japanese government.
Yet despite a tsunami of objections and complaints from both the Chinese government and its people, Takashi Kawamura still refuses to apologize.
During a press conference on February 22, the right-wing Japanese politician repeated himself, saying, “The so-called ‘Nanjing Massacre’ does not exist, and I will not take back my words.”
He added, however, that he hoped the friendship between the two cities would not change and that their relations, which have lasted 34 years, would continue.
Nanjing and Nagoya have been sister-cities in 1978.
A spokesperson with Nagoya’s City Hall has since said that Kawamura’s words “represent just his own opinions”.
The city government also said it would abide by the stance adopted by the Japanese government which is that, “Japan’s slaughter and plunder against civilians in Nanjing is undeniable.”
Meanwhile, Tokyo has expressed its unwillingness to intervene, saying the dispute “should be settled appropriately by the local governments of Nagoya and Nanjing.”
Analysts fear that Kawamura’s words will cast a shadow on the 40th anniversary of the relationship normalization between China and Japan.
Nanjing has cancelled its “Japan Week” saying it was “unable to guarantee the security of the event.”
In Nagoya, Kawamura’s office has claimed that 42 of the 66 letters and telephone calls to the city government expressed their support for his views.
The tardy response of both the Nanjing government and the Foreign Ministry have been roundly criticised by many.
In a widely retweeted post on leading Chinese microblog Sina Weibo, CCTV anchor Zhang Quanling said the belated response of the government officials indicates they are “clueless about diplomacy”, “so stable in their positions they have become lethargic”, and “out of touch with what will offend the (Chinese) people.”
Xu Jingbo, president of the Japan-based Asia News Agency, remarked saying, “If only the announcement of the suspension of ties had come two days earlier from the Nanjing government, that would have been worth something.”