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The sword attack on a Presidential Office guard was loaded in historical significance

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The man who attacked a guard at the Presidential Office Friday with a katana chose a weapon deep in historical and political meanings.

The samurai sword, stolen from the Armed Forces Museum, has "Killed 107 in the Battle of Nanking" carved into its blade collar in Chinese characters, which are also widely used in Japan.

The Battle of Nanking, then the capital of the Republic of China, was one of the key battles in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The city also has loaded meaning, as it is the location of the Nanking Massacre, during which Japanese troops engaged in the mass murder and rape of residents after seizing the city.

That incident, and such acts by the Japanese in general, are commonly used by authorities in China to stir animosity of Japan and build nationalist sentiment in the process.

The weapon fell into the hands of the Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang) government after being obtained by a Chinese army officer took it along with other weapons given by Japanese troops after as part of the terms of surrender that ended the Second World War.

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