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Sino-Japanese scholars agree on massacre facts
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Japanese historians, sent by Tokyo to take part in joint research work with their Beijing peers during the past three years, have recognized the facts surrounding Japan's invasion of China and the Nanking massacre, a Chinese historian said yesterday.

"The Japanese scholars have acknowledged Japan massacred innocent Chinese people in Nanjing and the fact that Japan invaded China. There's no problem with such issues," said Tang Chongnan, head of the China Japanese History Association, during the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' issuing of its annual report on Japanese development yesterday.

But there are still disputes surrounding the scale of the massacre and other details, Tang said.

China says around 300,000 civilians were killed in Nanjing after the city's Dec 9, 1937, capture by the Japanese when the city was the capital of the Republic of China.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimates there were 260,000 casualties.

However, Japanese textbooks have carried greatly reduced casualty estimates and some books, edited by right-wing scholars, have even denied the massacre – and even the Japanese invasion of China – took place.

The quarrel has soured relations between Tokyo and Beijing and led to protests by Chinese groups and individuals.

China and Japan launched the research program, involving dozens of scholars from both sides, in 2006.

Tang said there were many disputes during the latest research.

"Some Japanese scholars challenged the facts of the war, saying half of Japanese people don't believe them. We resolutely defended our stance," he said.

The nations were not ready to issue the results of their studies in 2008 because of "difficulties in reaching agreement on several issues", the Japanese principle involved in the program said at the time.

Tang said the Japanese government has been closely following the studies. Premier Wen Jiabao is understood to have personally checked the list of Chinese scholars involved.

Those Chinese scholars will attend a press conference and publish the results of the studies – 16 articles containing more than 600,000 Chinese characters – before visiting Japan between Sept 1 and 5, where they will share the results alongside their Japanese colleagues, Tang said. He said there were also other breakthroughs, including ones connected to the impact of Chinese ancient culture upon Japan.

He added that unresolved disputes will be tackled in the second phase of the research.

Wang Taiping, a former senior diplomat with China's embassy in Japan, was not surprised by the consensus.

"Japan sent mainstream scholars, not right-wing ones, so it was not surprising to see them reach agreement on the history," Wang said.

Yoshikazu Kato, a Beijing-based Japanese news analyst on Sino-Japanese relations, agreed: "Given the fact that Japan admitted the invasion in the joint communique announcing the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in 1972, Japan should take respect of history as a principle, not a problem." "Or else our relations will have no future."

The scholars were not attending the research personally but on behalf on their country, Wang said, adding that the work will filter down into Japanese textbooks.

However, he admitted that Japanese people will probably not change their mind about historical issues overnight.

(China Daily August 20, 2009)  

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