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Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 14:45

Nanjing: Japan may cut UNESCO funding

By Associated Press

Nanjing: Japan may cut UNESCO funding
Visiting schoolchildren look at photos on display at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing on Oct 10, 2015. (PHOTO / AFP)

TOKYO - Japan's chief government spokesman says Tokyo is considering various moves including possible cutting funding for UNESCO after the United Nations body registered documents on the "Rape of Nanjing" in its Memory of the World.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday that UNESCO's decision reflected only China's views over the 1937 assault on the Chinese city, when Japanese troops massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese civilians in what has become known as the Nanjing Massacre.

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

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

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Japan contributed 3.72 billion yen (about US$31 million) to UNESCO in 2014, or 10.8 percent of its budget assessed for the UN.

UNESCO's budget for the two-year 2014-2015 period is US$653 million. Japan has also set up various trust funds to support work on world and cultural heritage efforts.

Suga said Japan would also seek reform of UNESCO, which was the first UN organization Japan joined after World War II, in its 1951 return to the international community.

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

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 World War II.

Materials submitted by China for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2014 included documents about the period of the massacre, about the postwar 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.

He said Japan would also seek UNESCO's organizational reform.

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

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