Hong Kong (CNN) -- The mayor of a Japanese city has sparked outrage after playing down a well-documented massacre of civilians in China's former capital more than 70 years ago.
An estimated 300,000 people died when Japanese troops invaded the city of Nanjing in China's Jiangsu province in 1937, unleashing a campaign of rape, murder and looting that became known as the Nanjing Massacre. The event was recently portrayed in a movie starring Christian Bale called "The Flowers of War."
But earlier this week, Takashi Kawamura, the mayor of Nagoya, told a visiting delegation from Nanjing that he believed only "conventional acts of combat" took place there, not the mass murders and rapes, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported. He repeated his assertion to Japanese reporters Wednesday.
"It is true that a considerable number of people died in the course of battle. However such a thing as so-called Nanjing Massacre is unlikely to have taken place," he said.
Tokyo's outspoken conservative governor Shintaro Ishihara on Friday said he agreed with the mayor of Nagoya's statement that the 1937 'rape' of Nanjing by Japanese troops never happened.
"What mayor Kawamura says is correct. I would like to defend him," Ishihara told journalists.
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source: Paul Armstrong, CNN , MARTIN FACKLER, New York Times,, AFP