Anti-Japan protests reignited across China on Tuesday, the sensitive
anniversary marking Tokyo's occupation of its giant neighbour,
escalating a maritime dispute which has forced major Japanese brand name
firms to suspend business there.
Relations between Asia's two biggest economies have faltered
badly, with emotions running high on the streets and also out at sea
where two Japanese activists landed on an island at the centre of the
China reacted swiftly to the news of the landing, which risked
inflaming a crisis that already ranks as China's worst outbreak of
anti-Japan sentiment in decades. Beijing described the landing as
provocative, lodged a complaint with Tokyo and said it reserved the
right to "take further action".
The dispute over the uninhabited group of islands in the East
China Sea - known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - led to
another day of protests that were smothered by a heavy blanket of
Japanese businesses shut hundreds of stores and factories across
China and Japan's embassy in Beijing again came under siege by
protesters hurling water bottles, waving Chinese flags, and chanting
anti-Japan slogans evoking war-time enmity.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda urged Beijing again to protect Japanese citizens in China.
"Today is our day of shame," said a Beijing protester, Wei Libing, a waiter in his 40s. "Japan invaded China on this date."
"Wipe out all Japanese dogs," read one banner held aloft by one
of thousands of protesters marching on the embassy, which was ringed by
riot police standing six rows deep. Japan's foreign ministry said some
embassy windows had been smashed.
Sino-Japanese ties have long been plagued by China's bitter memories
of Japan's military aggression in the 1930s and 1940s and present
rivalry over resources - the islands are believed to be surrounded by
For China, Tuesday marks the day Japan began its occupation of parts of mainland China in 1931.
Rowdy protests sprang up in other major cities including
Shanghai, raising the risk they could get out of hand and backfire on
Beijing, which has given tacit approval to them through state media. One
Hong Kong newspaper said some protesters in southern Shenzhen had been
detained for calling for democracy and human rights.
JAPANESE FIRMS HUNKER DOWN
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, visiting China to promote
stronger Sino-U.S. military ties, again called for calm and restraint.
Washington has said it will not take sides.
China said it wanted a peaceful outcome. "We still hope for a
peaceful and negotiated solution to this issue and we hope to work
together and work well with the Japanese government," Defence Minister
Liang Guanglie said after meeting Panetta.
Japan's coast guard said three Chinese marine surveillance ships
briefly entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near the
disputed islets on Tuesday evening, the second time since Friday when
six ships briefly entered the waters.
Well-known Japanese firms have been targeted by protesters, with
car makers Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co halting some operations
after attacks on their outlets.
Other Japanese companies -- from Mazda and Mitsubishi Motors to
Panasonic and Fast Retailing -- also shut plants and stores in China,
sending Japanese share prices falling and prompting a warning from
credit rating agency Fitch that the situation could hurt some auto and
tech firms' creditworthiness.