05/18/2017 10:50 EDT | Updated 05/18/2017 10:55 EDT

Ontario Has A Moral Obligation To Remember The Nanjing Massacre

Dear Madam Premier Kathleen Wynne:

My name is Karen Lin. I am a former school trustee candidate, a well-known community activist and a political organizer in the Chinese community. I am writing to you today in support of Bill 79: An Act to proclaim the Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day. The events of Second World War in the Pacific are well known around the world.

Canadian students learn about the horrible tragedy that happened when the U.S. army dropped atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Unfortunately, Ontarians have not had the opportunity to learn and understand the series of events leading up to the military action conducted by the U.S. army in Japan. Neither have Ontarians had the opportunity to learn about the tragedies of the killing of many innocent lives in China, Korea, the Philippines and many other East Asian countries by a brutal Japanese military occupation.

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Teenagers hold candles to mourn the victims of Nanjing Massacre during China's National Memorial Day on Dec. 13, 2016. (Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The Nanjing Massacre, commonly known as "The Rape of Nanking," was an infamous war crime committed by the Japanese military in and around the then capital of China, Nanjing, after it fell to the Imperial Japanese Army on Dec.13, 1937.

The Nanjing Massacre saw 300,000 innocent civilian lives killed by the Japanese army within six short weeks. During the occupation of Nanjing, the Japanese army committed numerous atrocities, such as rape, looting, arson and the execution of prisoners of war and civilians. To this day, the Japanese government still routinely denies the Nanjing Massacre and many other atrocities such as drafting under-aged women into sexual slavery as "comfort women" during the Second World War.

In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution calling on Japan to acknowledge the fact that it drafted comfort women from Asian countries, including Korea, and accept responsibility and educate future generations about this crime against humanity.

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This undated file photo copy shows Chinese soldiers on the way to be executed after they were seized by Japanese invaders during the Nanjing Massacre. (Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images)

We believe it is equally important for Ontario to become the first province in Canada to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre. Ontario is home to some of the largest Asian communities in Canada. This letter is widely endorsed by more than 100 registered Chinese Canadian Organizations, registered Chinese Canadian Cultural Groups and Associations, various associations from different ethnic communities as well as many labour unions across the province. Almost 100,000 signatures have been collected in petition to pass Bill 79 so far. There is a genuine and organic desire within the Asian communities to pass Bill 79.

We have a moral obligation to tell future generations about the carnage, terror and tragedies that happened in the Second World War.

Passing Bill 79 also has a broader Canadian context. During the Second World War, Canada played a vital role in defending Hong Kong against the Japanese military invasion as part of the commonwealth. In 1941, Canadian soldiers in Hong Kong fought against overwhelming odds and displayed courage and tenacity.

The Canadian soldiers had virtually no chance of victory, but refused to surrender until they were overrun by the enemy. Those who survived were captured as prisoners of war. They endured torture and starvation by their Japanese captors. The experiences of these Canadian POWs captured by the Japanese were difficult and sometimes deadly. The Canadian POWs from the Defence of Hong Kong suffered a particularly heavy toll, as more than 260 did not survive the harsh conditions of the Japanese prison camps.

The Canada Remembers Program of Veterans Affairs Canada does not place enough emphasis on the education of our children about the sacrifices and achievements made by Canadian soldiers in the wars in the Asia Pacific region. Bill 79 will provide a unique opportunity not only to remember the innocent lives that were lost during the Nanjing Massacre, it also invites Canadians to become involved in remembrance activities that will help preserve their legacy for future generations.

Many prominent Japanese Canadians such as Joy Kogawa have spoken out in support of Bill 79. The intention of Bill 79 is not to blame the Japanese people for Japan's war crime. We bear no ill will towards the Japanese people. We believe the path to truth and reconciliation is through open and honest dialogue.

As our communities mobilize and organize in support of Bill 79, we are also actively reaching out to the Japanese communities in Canada. We have a moral obligation to tell future generations about the carnage, terror and tragedies that happened in the Second World War. At the same time, we must also be champions for tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, and most importantly, peace. With no exemptions, we were all victims of war.

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The Chinese national flag is flown at half-mast during a memorial ceremony at the Nanjing Massacre Museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province Dec. 13, 2014. (Photo: Aly Song/Reuters)

Ontario prides itself on being the leader of social justice, human rights, inclusiveness and welcoming to all in Canada. We hope with the passage of Bill 79, we can start on a journey of remembrance, dialogue, healing and, most significantly, understanding. We are deeply committed to including the Japanese communities and any other communities who wish to take part in this dialogue.

In the spirit of truth, reconciliation and peace,

Karen Lin

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