Chinese lawmakers are considering designating Dec. 13 as a national memorial day to pay tribute to those killed by the Japanese military in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, state media reported Tuesday.
Reporting on the national legislature's announcement, the Chinese media said the country is also planning to officially make Sept. 3 as a victory day in the war against Japan.
The announcement, made about a week before the start of this year's National People's Congress, comes as relations between China and Japan have plummeted to the worst levels in many decades over territorial and historical issues.
China has been stepping up its propaganda campaigns against Japan at home and abroad, mainly using history as its main tool, especially since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit in December to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine.
Abe's visit to the shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal are enshrined with about 2.5 million war dead, further fueled concerns over his nationalistic policies and the Japanese government's lack of repentance for atrocities committed before and during World War II.
After the visit, several officials close to Abe made controversial remarks on Japan's war-time history, such as denying the massacre, which also infuriated China and raised doubts about his government's sincerity.
The drafted plan to set Dec. 13 and Sept. 3 as special days is now under discussion at a three-day meeting of the Standing Committee of the NPC, which runs through Thursday, according to Xinhua News Agency.
It is most likely that the plan to legislate the two days will be approved by the committee.
"It is extremely necessary to set the days through legislative procedures to reflect the will of the Chinese people," Xinhua quoted Li Shishi, director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC committee, as saying.
Japanese forces on Dec. 13, 1937, took control of Nanjing, the then Chinese capital formerly Romanized as Nanking. Both in the lead-up to the city's capture and during the weeks that followed, Japanese troops killed a large number of Chinese civilians.
However, Chinese and Japanese historians are still divided on the number of the victims.
Chinese historians say that as many as 300,000 people were killed, while estimates by Japanese scholars range widely from about 20,000 to 200,000.
Every year, China observes the victory in its war of resistance against Japan on Sept. 3, because Japan formally surrendered to the Allied Powers on Sept. 2, 1945, with a signing ceremony aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.