BEIJING – China has expressed outrage at a proposal by the city of Minamikyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture, to list letters written by World War II suicide pilots on a United Nations register alongside Anne Frank’s diary.
Minamikyushu filed an application last week to include the kamikaze pilots’ farewell letters on a UNESCO world memory list, media including NHK have reported.
The Chiran Peace Museum wants to win registration in 2015, “to forever hand down the letters to generations to come as a treasure of human life,” according to a statement on its website.
Among documents on the UNESCO register is the diary of Anne Frank, written by the Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam with her family.
“This is an effort to beautify Japan’s history of militaristic aggression, and challenge the victory of the ‘World Anti-Fascist War’ and the postwar international order,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday when asked about the letters.
“This effort runs completely counter to UNESCO’s objective of upholding world peace, and will inevitably meet strong condemnation and resolute opposition from the international community,” she said.
Relations between Beijing and Tokyo are heavily colored by history, particularly the rampage across China by the Imperial Japanese forces in the 1930s and 1940s, when Chinese government researchers say 20.6 million people were killed.
The kamikaze letters are included in thousands of items kept at the museum in Minamikyushu, left behind by 1,036 pilots.
The small town of Chiran is known as the place from which kamikaze planes departed on their flight of no return.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme was established in 1992 to preserve global documentary heritage.