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Sunday, April 9, 2000

Osaka citizens challenge Nanking Massacre denial


Staff writer

OSAKA -- The only lies about the Nanking Massacre were told at a symposium denying it occurred, and the Osaka prefectural and municipal governments made a grave mistake in allowing it to be held at a center dedicated to peace, activists and scholars said Saturday.

The message was delivered before about 200 people at a conference at Osaka International Peace Center (Peace Osaka), the same venue as the controversial January symposium.

The conference, titled "Correcting Peace Osaka's Questioning of The Rape of Nanking," featured the head of the memorial for victims of the 1937-38 massacre as well as Japanese activists and Nanking scholars.

It was sponsored by a local citizens' group to counter the allegations made at the earlier symposium, titled "The Verification of the Rape of Nanking: The Biggest Lie of the 20th Century.".

"The title of the January symposium suggested that there were lies about the Rape of Nanking. Who lied? The rightwing group that held the seminar," said keynote speaker Cheng Shan Zhu, director of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanking Massacre by Japanese Invaders.

"I can understand there may be doubts about history. But I cannot approve of the stupidity on the part of the Osaka government for allowing the January symposium to take place in a hall dedicated to peace," Zhu said.

During the January controversy, Osaka Prefecture and Osaka city, which administer Peace Osaka as a foundation, defended their decision by saying that, under the Constitution and local autonomy laws, they could not deny local citizens the right of assembly in a public space.

Local lawyer Yoshihiro Sorano, however, said that laws covering foundations are not as clear as the laws covering purely government facilities.

He added, however, that Peace Osaka officials were required, under local autonomy laws, to first seek public approval for such symposiums.

"Peace Osaka officials made the decision to hold the January symposium without consulting anyone, and appeared to have no understanding of what the law requires," Sorano said.



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