China Designates Two New National Days

Move by Top Legislative Body Highlights Japanese Aggression in World War II

Chinese military personnel attend a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing on Dec. 13, 2013. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By  Updated Feb. 27, 2014 11:38 a.m. ET

China's top legislative body designated two new national days aimed at highlighting Japanese aggression during World War II.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress approved proposals designating Sept. 3as "War Against Japanese Aggression Victory Day" and Dec. 13 as a day of remembrance for victims of the Nanjing Massacre, according to state media.

Japanese troops captured Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, and spent the next six weeks torturing and killing civilians in the city. Japan officially surrendered to the Allied Powers on Sept. 2, 1945, in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri that marked the end of the war.

Tensions between Japan and China have been on the rise, stoked by a territorial dispute in the East China Sea and a recent visit by Japan's prime minister to a shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals. The conflict has stoked nationalist sentiment on both sides.

The Chinese calendar is dotted with days of commemoration for events and causes ranging from the founding of the military to men's health, but it is rare for such days to be voted on at such a high level. A commentary in the overseas edition of the Communist Party's flagship newspaper People's Daily made it clear that the decision was intended in part to send a message to Japan.

"Victory Day is a time for celebration, but also for alertness," the commentary said. "The specter of Japanese militarism still haunts us."

China has other days dedicated to remembrance of its long conflict with Japan. They include Sept. 18, which marks the day Japanese troops invaded the city of Shenyang, beginning a wider takeover of northeast China.

National days in China aren't public holidays, though some Chinese have clamored online for a day off to mark the victory over Japan. Typically, national days are a time for commemoration marked by essays and speeches."The approval of the national days has great historical significance and is a necessity in current circumstances," the state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying.

Xinhua noted that the Chinese government had already designated Sept. 3 as victory day in 1951. Official media accounts didn't explain why Beijing felt the need to re-ratify that decision.

Write to Josh Chin at


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