China decides to make Dec. 13 memorial day for Nanjing Massacre

China's top legislature on Thursday endorsed proposals to designate Dec. 13 as a national memorial day for victims of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and Sept. 3 as a victory day in the war against Japan, state media said Thursday.

The decision was made during a three-day meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, ended earlier in the day, according to Xinhua News Agency.

China's latest move comes as its relations with Japan have sunk to the worst levels in many decades over a territorial dispute and divergent perceptions of history.

The decision, made before the start of this year's NPC next Wednesday, became known also when China is stepping up its propaganda campaigns against Japan at home and abroad, especially after 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, has drawn sharp criticism from China and some other countries saying that his government lacks repentance for Japan's atrocities committed before and during World War II.

Japanese forces on Dec. 13, 1937, took control of Nanjing, the then Chinese capital formerly Romanized as Nanking. Both in the run-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.