SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday it would make Sept. 3 a national holiday this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, said it in a statement posted on this website that it had set the holiday to “mark the victory of its war against Japan” and allow people to take part in commemoration events.
Diplomatic ties between the two historic foes have been strained since late 2012 following a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The spat led to large-scale anti-Japan protests across China and boycott of Japanese goods.
Many Japanese executives in China have cited the 70th anniversary as a risk to business this year if it leads to a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment in the world’s second biggest economy.
Sales of Japanese goods slumped following the island dispute, with sales of Japanese cars falling around 50 percent in late 2012.
A front-page editorial in the official People’s Daily on Sunday praised German leaders for facing up to war crimes committed during World War Two, saying it stands in contrast to Japan’s failure to reflect on its past.
China, which has repeatedly urged Japan to face up to its past, says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in the 1937 Nanjing massacre. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000.
In a speech to U.S. Congress in Washington last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in World War Two and upheld statements by his predecessors, but stopped short of issuing his own apology.
Reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Alex Richardson