Thousands of Nanjing residents and Chinese dignitaries turned out in a mass commemoration to mark the 1937 massacre of civilians in the Chinese city of Nanjing by Japanese troops on Tuesday.
All vehicles within city limits came to a halt at 10.00 a.m., sounding their horns for a minute in mourning for those who died.
An official ceremony at the Memorial Hall of Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, which was attended by more than 8,000 people, including survivors of the massacre, relatives of victims and Holocaust survivors.
Ranks of people in somber clothing or military uniforms and a white flower for mourning stood in the rain amid banners that declared a "National Memorial Day."
Soldiers laid wreaths, doves were released and a giant bell tolled, in an event that was only inaugurated as a public holiday in 2014.
An international military tribunal in Tokyo estimated in 1946 that more than 200,000 people were killed when Japanese troops went on an orgy of killing and mass rape that targeted civilians, women and children.
China claims that the death toll is closer to 300,000. Contemporary reports said at least 20,000 women and girls were raped, amid reports of other widespread atrocities including torture and sexual mutilation.
While Japan's government has officially acknowledged the massacre, some high-ranking Japanese figures still deny it ever happened, creating tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
UNESCO funding cut by Japan
High-ranking ruling Chinese Communist Party official Zhao Leji, a member of the Politburo, said in a speech broadcast live on state television that all attempts to deny the atrocity must be resisted.
"All hideous activities that attempt to change history, deny the violent activities and reverse the verdict of starting the aggression war will be criticized and spurned by Chinese people and anyone who loves peace and justice in the world," Zhao said.
Television images showed government officials, war veterans and school children singing the Chinese national anthem.
Historical archives on the Nanjing massacre and the widespread forcing of "comfort women" into prostitution were admitted to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register last year.
In response, Japan withheld its 2016 funding for UNESCO, which set up the program in 1992 to protect important historical documents and materials.
In Canada, the province of Ontario's legislature said it was considering designating Dec. 13 Nanjing Massacre Remembrance Day.
Ontario is home to one of the largest populations of Chinese origin in Canada, with some residents linked to both victims and survivors of the massacre, according to a proposed legislation.
Reported by Lam Kwok-lap by RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Zhang Wei for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.