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Japan may cut Unesco funding over Nanjing massacre move

Published 13/10/2015

Japanese troops massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanjing in 1937
Japanese troops massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese civilians in Nanjing in 1937

Japan is considering cutting funding for Unesco after the United Nations body registered documents on the "Rape of Nanjing" in its Memory of the World register.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Unesco's decision reflected only Beijing's views over the 1937 assault on the Chinese city, when Japanese troops slaughtered between 40,000 and 300,000 civilians in what has become known as the Nanjing Massacre.

Mr Suga questioned the decision's transparency and said Japan was considering various ways to protest, including "suspension of our contributions".

He said Tokyo would also seek reform of Unesco.

Chinese and Japanese estimates vary regarding how many died in the attack, viewed as one of the worst atrocities of the Second World War era.

"There is a big discrepancy of views between Japan and China, and the decision reflecting a unilateral view turns the issue into a political problem," Mr Suga said.

"We are considering all measures (of protest), including suspension of our funding contributions."

"The decision-making process lacked transparency. We were not even allowed access to the contents of the Chinese documents."

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Tokyo contributed 3.72 billion yen (about £20 million) to Unesco last year, or 10.8% of its budget assessed for the UN.

Unesco's budget for the two-year 2014-15 period is 653 million dollars (£426 million). Japan has also set up various trust funds to support work on world and cultural heritage efforts.

Unesco was the first UN organisation Japan joined after the Second World War, in its 1951 return to the international community.

While Japan objected to the inclusion of the documents on the Nanjing Massacre, it succeeded in having some of its own candidates for the memory list included, including details on detainees held in Siberia after the war.

Materials submitted by China for inclusion in the Memory of the World register last year included documents about the period of the massacre, about the post-war investigation and trials of war criminals documented by the Chinese National Government's Military Tribunal in 1945-47 and 1952-56 files from China's judiciary.

Unesco did not agree to register documents submitted by China about women forced to provide sex to Japanese Imperial Army troops during the war.

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