A Chinese museum marked the anniversary of the 1931 Mukden Incident Wednesday by revealing documents it said will facilitate a compensation claim against Tokyo over forced labor in World War II.
Imperial Japanese soldiers set off an explosion by a Japanese-run railway in Manchuria 82 years ago but blamed it on the Chinese as a pretext to invade and take over the vast northeastern region, setting off the beginning of Japan’s role in World War II.
While China and Japan are major trading partners, their political relationship has been soured by history and other disputes over the invasion and subsequent atrocities committed during World War II.
The two giants are currently at loggerheads over disputed islets in the East China Sea controlled by Tokyo but claimed by China and Taiwan.
The Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression has more than 400 documents on display that it says details how 40,000 Chinese were forced to work in Japan during the war.
“We are going to file lawsuits to the Japanese government to make them admit what they did, apologize and give compensation to the relatives of victims,” deputy museum director Li Zongyuan said.
A video was shown containing images of what it called “shameless” Japanese politicians visiting Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates more than 2 million Japanese war dead, including Class A war criminals.
Beijing regularly accuses Tokyo of failing to atone for its imperialist past, while Japan says its neighbors use history as a diplomatic stick to beat it with.
Kin of Chinese who were forced into labor have previously filed claims against Japanese firms, but most have failed.