by Ye Zaiqi and Wu Xiaoling
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- A meeting hall solemnly decked with white flowers and black ribbons in downtown San Francisco, was adorned with sombre black-and-white pictures of World War II victims.
In a ceremony held here, a 20-minute preview of a documentary depicting horrifying footage of killings, raping and looting by Japanese troops brought audience back to the gruesome days of manslaughter in Nanjing in southern China 8 decades ago.
Still yet to be completed, the two-hour documentary produced by independent American scholar, Adam Jonas Horowitz, was specially presented at this Sunday's ceremony, where hundreds of people from Chinese, Korean and Philippine communities in San Francisco, a major multi-ethnic city on the west coast of the United States, gathered to commemorate the 300,000 Chinese people brutally killed in a horrible massacre by Japanese invaders decades ago.
The appalling footage of Chinese men and women, including grey-haired villagers and infants, shot or bayoneted to death, and young women raped recklessly by invading Japanese troops, was filmed by Western journalists during the massacre in Nanjing, a city in southeast China, in World War II.
"The films about the war crime by the Japanese forces were strictly banned and covered up by Japanese wartime authorities at the time, but some of them were smuggled out by Western journalists or missionaries who risked their lives to expose the Japanese atrocities, which made it possible for us today to seek the truth of history," Horowitz told Xinhua.
Horowitz said he has spent many years studying the history of Japan's aggression in Asia, particularly the Nanjing Massacre, which prompted him to produce the documentary as a reminder for people, especially the younger generations, that justice must be held and peace be maintained.
Sunday's commemoration, an annual event that coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre this year, was held to pay tribute to the innocent Chinese people indiscriminately slaughtered in six weeks by the invading Japanese troops, starting from Dec. 13, 1937.
More than 20,000 Chinese women and girls were raped or killed by the Japanese forces during the six weeks of destruction, pillage, rape and slaughter in the city.
Jennifer Cheung, chairwoman of Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition and one of the organizers of Sunday's event, said the remembrance activity was held to promote peace instead of harboring hatred toward the Japanese people.
The Rape of Nanjing happened 80 years ago, but "to the victims who are still alive, it still feels like yesterday," Cheung said.
"These victims are still enduring horrible memories and some of them carrying physical and psychological wounds that will never go away," she said.
The Japanese government has repeatedly refused to apologize for the war crimes committed by the war-time imperial Japanese troops and continued to deny the fact that approximately 200,000 Asian women and girls, including Chinese young women, were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during World War II, Cheung said.
The survivors of those victimized females, who were exploited by the Japanese forces as sexual slaves in the name of "Comfort Women," have never obtained an apology due from the Japanese government, she added.
"No real peace could come true without the apology from the Japanese government," said Cheung, whose remarks received thunderous applause from the audience.
Zha Liyou, Chinese deputy consul general in San Francisco, told the audience on the same occasion that the massacre was a crime against humanity and the darkest page in modern human history.
"We are here today to honor the Chinese compatriots killed in the Nanjing Massacre, to remember the profound sufferings inflicted by the Japanese aggressors, and reaffirm our commitment to oppose war of aggression and safeguard world peace," Zha said.
Sam Ng, president of the Committee to Promote the Reunification of China, said "Dec. 13, 1937 was the darkest day in the Chinese history ... Even today, the Japanese government is still trying to bury the truth of the war crime committed by the Japanese troops."
The Japanese government must acknowledge the war crimes and apologize to the Chinese and Korean people, he said.
"No apology, no peace!" Ng chanted at the end of his speech amid loud applause from the audience.
Arron Peskin, one of the board of supervisors of San Francisco city, recalled his Jewish father and families who ran high risks of fleeing Nazi Germany to the United States during the Second World War.
He said his father went through many hardships before arriving at the United States and finally worked at University of California, San Francisco for more than 40 years on the history of Nazi persecution of the Jewish people.
After Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. government put more than 100,000 Japanese Americans in the concentration camps in the following year, Peskin said.
However, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1988 to apologize for the injustice of the American government, he added.
"If we can do that, the nation state of Japan can do that 80 years later," Peskin said.
A seven-year-old boy, who sat quietly among the audience throughout the commemoration ceremony, said after the event that he did not know the history of the Asian people who suffered under Japanese aggression, but he was willing to come along with his parents to such an event and learn more about the past.
Apart from the Chinese attendees, members from Korean, Philippine and African communities in San Francisco, who shared the same or similar war-time memories caused by the Japanese army, also participated in the event to demonstrate their strong support for their Chinese friends.
The annual event was organized by Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia, the San Francisco Committee to Promote the Reunification of China, and the "Comfort Women" Justice Coalition.
The year 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, which is seen in China as the lowest point of an era when the country was bullied and humiliated by foreign powers.
In February 2014, China's top legislature designated Dec. 13 as the national memorial day for victims of the massacre.