NANJING -- With no tombs to sweep for their deceased relatives, more than 100 people visited the Nanjing Memorial Hall of Compatriots Murdered in the Nanjing Massacre on Friday morning during the first day of the three-day Qingming Festival.
Flowers put by relatives of victims of the Nanjing Massacre are seen on the victim list wall in the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, April 4, 2008. [Xinhua]
Holding a bouquet of chrysanthemums in the eastern Jiangsu Province capital, 76-year-old Nanjing massacre survivor Cheng Fubao looked for his father's name on the "wailing wall", a monument engraved with more than 10,000 names of victims.
His father, Cheng Changhe, was killed by Japanese soldiers as he fled the city. His mourning family, busy hiding from the on-going atrocities around them, failed to bury the man timely. Several days later, his body was gone.
"On each Tomb Sweeping Day we wonder where to commemorate my father," said the old man. Gazing at his father's name added to the wall late last year, Cheng choked back his tears. "May he rest in peace."
"Behind each name there is a tragic story," said Zhu Chengshan, the memorial hall curator. He added that each year, many people came to commemorate their dead relatives.
The Qingming Festival dates back more than 2,600 years. It was said to commemorate a faithful follower of a prince, Jie Zitui, who cut a piece of muscle from his own leg to serve his starved master. He was later killed in a mountain fire.
The prince, who was later crowned Duke Wen of Jin in 636 BC, ordered fires couldn't be lit on the day of Jie's death. Gradually, the day became an occasion for Chinese people to commemorate their dead relatives.
Joining the mournful Chinese in Nanjing were several Japanese, including Matsuoka Tamaki, a primary school teacher in her 60s from Osaka who had been to Nanjing more than 20 times.
"As citizens of Japan, inflictor of the war, we express our repent at this special time," she said.
Friday also marked the public debut of the feature documentary "Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking" in 12 cinemas in Nanjing and Shanghai.
Shi Xiuying cries as she touches the name of her relative killed in the Nanjing Massacre, which is engraved on the victim list wall in the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, April 4, 2008. [Xinhua]
The 10 million yuan (US$1.42 million) film sponsored by the Toronto chapter of the Association for Learning and Preserving the History of World War II (ALPHA) and the Hong Kong-based Dadi Entertainment, focused on the endeavors of Chang investigating the truth of the Nanjing massacre and recounting the atrocity in her book "The Rape of Nanking" (the old name of Nanjing).
The film's box office receipts were to be donated to international organizations such as ALPHA.
On Dec. 13, 1937, the invading Japanese army occupied Nanjing and launched a six-week massacre. Chinese records show more than 300,000 people, not only disarmed soldiers but also civilians, were murdered.
"Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future," said She Ziqing, another Nanjing Massacre survivor visiting the memorial hall. "We hope that both sides in the war draw lesson from it, and that China and Japan could be friends forever."