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Thousands join anti japan protests in east china

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http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=675809

Thousands Join Anti-Japan Protests in East China
Reuters

Apr. 16, 2005 - Shouting "Japanese invaders must die," thousands protested in eastern China against Japan's wartime past on Saturday, hurling rocks and bottles at Tokyo's consulate in Shanghai and burning Japanese flags.

But with thousands of paramilitary police on the streets of Beijing and students warned against protests, authorities headed off a repeat of last weekend's violent demonstrations in the capital, which Japan's foreign minister is to visit on Sunday.

There was also calm in the southern city of Guangzhou and Chongqing in the southwest, where thousands marched last weekend.

China has been accused of tacitly encouraging the unrest, which started in Guangdong and Sichuan provinces early this month, spread to Beijing last week and, now, to Tianjin, Shanghai and Hangzhou on the east coast.

Chinese are protesting against school textbooks they say whitewash Japan's wartime atrocities in China, against Tokyo's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, and on other disputes.

In the third weekend of violent protests against Japan, thousands marched on the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, smashing its windows with rocks, pelting it with paint bombs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way.

One banner read "Face Up to History." Another warned: "The anti-Japan war is not over yet."

Protesters overturned a Japanese car and scrawled the slogan "Boycott Japan" on its side. Japan's Kyodo news agency said two Japanese were injured when they were surrounded by a group of Chinese.

Hundreds of paramilitary police in full riot gear stood by and appealed for order on loud hailers. Isolated scuffles broke out and about a dozen protesters were dragged away.

But there were moments of relative calm during which protesters and police alike bought lattes at a nearby coffee shop. The demonstration broke up in the early evening.

JAPAN LODGES PROTEST

Japan's foreign ministry lodged a protest, saying the Chinese government had failed to protect Japan's diplomatic and commercial facilities from damage by protesters and urging Beijing to take serious steps to prevent a recurrence.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appealed for calm.

"Most of the people of Japan, China, and South Korea ought to feel strongly that it is good to look toward the future and have friendly ties, and we must hope for the development of relations from now on," Kyodo quoted Koizumi as saying.

In the eastern city of Hangzhou, 10,000 protesters chanted anti-Japanese slogans and handed out fliers calling for a boycott of Japanese goods, witnesses said. Another 2,000 people marched in Tianjin city, near the capital.

In Beijing, hundreds of police in riot gear guarded the ambassador's home in the northeast diplomatic district and the embassy in the southeast. Both were pelted with rocks and bottles last weekend but spared this time around.

China appeared to be clamping down harder to keep the capital peaceful ahead of Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura's visit.

University students were warned by email not to protest. Top anti-Japanese activists in Beijing were rounded up to prevent protests, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.

Machimura, due to meet his counterpart Li Zhaoxing on Sunday, aims to ensure disputes -- on everything from gas exploration in disputed waters to Japan's history -- do not hurt $178 billion in annual trade between the economic powers.

But Machimura noted security in Shanghai was inadequate and said he would share his views with Li.

Anger has flared in China after Tokyo's approval this month of a history textbook written by Japanese nationalist scholars that many in Asia say glosses over Japan's wartime past.

Tensions edged up another notch on Wednesday when Japan announced it had begun procedures to allocate rights for test-drilling for gas in a disputed area of the East China Sea.

Street protests in China are usually quickly snuffed out by security forces. Beijing denies that in this case it has deliberately allowed the anti-Japanese unrest to grow.

"I have to point out here that such allegations are totally groundless and a serious distortion of truth," State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, a former foreign minister, said. Beijing has promised to protect Japanese people and property.

Describing relations as being at a "crossroads," Tang blamed the tensions on repeated visits by Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, to the Yasukuni shrine -- where convicted war criminals are honored along with Japan's war dead. (Reporting by Edwin Chan, Lucy Hornby, and Doug Young in Shanghai, Reuters Television, and Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo)


Copyright 2005 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures



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