China removes monument for Japanese settlers

The term "Japanese settlers" is applied to those Japanese who came to northeast China after 1905.

Updated: Aug 07, 2011, 21:04 PM IST

Beijing: Under pressure from angry Chinese
netizens, authorities have removed a stone monument for
Japanese settlers who died during World War II in northeast
China`s Heilongjiang Province, the state media reported on Sunday.

Authorities in Fangzheng County, where the monument is
located, said in a microblog post that they would close the
cemetery in which the monument was set up and remove the
monument due to public criticism over the local government`s
intentions.

Xinhua news agency, quoting witnesses said the monument,
which was engraved with the names of 229 Japanese settlers,
was been removed yesterday morning.

The cemetery for the Japanese in the county was approved
by the late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in 1963.

The Fangzheng County government has been under fire a
week ago when a microblog post accused the county of spending
700,000 yuan (108,500 US dollars) to erect a monument for
"Japanese invaders" in order to attract foreign investments.

The news attracted huge amount of comments from netizens
at weibo.com, China`s largest microblog website.

Hong Zhenguo, the county`s deputy head, denied that the
monument was erected to attract Japanese investment. "Our
original intention was to reflect on the past and wish for
peace," he said.

Many netizens, however, do not buy his explanation,
especially those who have taken a hard line against Japan over
bilateral disputes. They accused local authorities of
kowtowing to money and forgetting the humiliation China
suffered during Japan`s invasion of China in the 1930s and
1940s.

The term "Japanese settlers" is applied to those Japanese
who came to northeast China after 1905.

After Japan surrendered in 1945, many of the settlers
tried to return to their country. However, due to long journey
back to Japan and spread of epidemics, more than 5,000
Japanese settlers died in Fangzheng County, according to Wang
Weixin, director of the foreign affairs office of Fangzheng
county government.

"Their remains were collected by local people and
buried," he said.

Sino-Japanese relations have flared up recently. China on
Thursday accused Japan of deliberately exaggerating Beijing`s
military threat.

The accusation follows a defense white paper earlier this
week in which Japan warned that China`s naval forces were
likely to increase activities around its waters. The two
countries have long bickered over ownership of parts of the
resource-rich East China Sea as well as Japan`s alleged
atrocities in China during World War II.

PTI