The Legislative Council will pass a bill for a one-time holiday on September 3 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China’s victory over Japan in World War II.
Pro-establishment lawmakers unanimously voiced their support for the bill. Federation of Trade Unions legislator Wong Kwok-hing condemned Japanese militarism and concluded with the slogan, “Overthrow Japanese militarism, Japan must apologise and make reparations.” Likewise, DAB lawmaker Steven Ho Chun-yin said that “the government should do more work in [promoting China’s victory over Japan] and not just to let the day pass by calmly.”
Pan-democrats stated that they do not oppose the proposal. However, they were critical of the government’s eagerness to follow decisions made in Beijing. The Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan called it “a political holiday,” contending that “since the NPCSC made a decision, we therefore have a holiday.”
Independent lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man harshly criticised the government for not celebrating Hong Kong’s own liberation from Japan. Sin Chung-kai of the Democratic Party mirrored this sentiment, saying that “following the handover, the government deliberately focused on decolonisation… ‘Liberation Day’ and ‘Sino-Japanese War Victory Day’ certainly have a personal resonance to the older generation of Hong Kongers as it signifies their freedom from Japanese rule.”
September 3, 2015 will fall on a Thursday, and will bring the total number of statutory holidays, which are holidays for all workers, up to 13 days.
On May 13, China’s State Council decreed September 3 “Victory Day” to celebrate the historic date. On the same day, the Hong Kong government announced their own holiday proposal and their intention to submit the bill to the legislature.
Sin said at the time that the announcement went against past arrangements for public holidays, whereby the government gave at least 6 – 9 months prior notice in order to allow the public and businesses to make suitable arrangements.
Hong Kong was held by Japan for three years and eight months between 1941 and 1945. The occupation ended with Japan’s surrender and the colony’s return to British control on August 30. This day became “Liberation Day” and was a public holiday until 1997. The day was moved to the third Monday in August and became “Sino-Japanese War Victory Day” but was cancelled in 1999.
In 2014, the Chief Executive’s Office announced for the first time that a commemoration ceremony would be held on September 3.