Japan PM Noda urges China to prevent anti-Japan violence

Posted on September 16, 2012


China must take steps to prevent violence against Japanese citizens, Japanese Prime Minster Yoshihiko Noda has said.

Anti-Japanese protests spread to cities across China on Saturday in an escalating row over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters faced off against riot police at the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

Violent and barbaric anti-Japan protesters try to break into Japan’s embassy in Beijing

Japanese businesses have also been targeted by protesters.

“We want [China] to oversee the situation so that at least Japanese citizens and businesses in China will not be in danger,” Mr Noda told Japanese TV, according to the AFP news agency.

“We will continue to take a resolute attitude. But we will also remain calm. Japan will ask the Chinese side to do the same,” Kyodo news agency reported him as saying.

Protests were reported in dozens of Chinese cities on Sunday. The previous day’s disturbances had seen Japanese businesses and even Japanese-made cars attacked.

Rising tensions

One eyewitness in the city of Xi’an described to the BBC how his camera was snatched from him and damaged because it was a Japanese brand.

“Japanese-made cars were randomly stopped, their drivers grabbed and thrown out… and the cars smashed and burned. The police and army seemed to do little to stop the riot,” he said.

Tensions have been heightened this week after the purchase of some of the islands by the Japanese government from their private Japanese owners.

Protesters in the city of Xi'an set upon a Japanese-made car
Japanese-made cars were targeted by protesters in Xi’an, one eyewitness said

China briefly sent six surveillance ships into waters around the islands on Friday in response.

The islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are also claimed by Taiwan and have been a long-running source of friction in the region.

Analysts see Japan’s decision to buy the islands as damage limitation in response to a much more provocative plan by the nationalistic governor of Tokyo, who wanted to purchase and develop the islands.

The dispute has been ratcheted up by the media in both countries – in China, where a leadership change looms and in Japan, in the run-up to an election.


Xi re-emerges as Chinese leaders condone anti-Japan protests

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, center, attends an activity to mark this year’s National Science Popularization Day at China Agricultural University in Beijing, on Sept. 15, 2012. China’s presumed next leader Xi made an appearance Saturday for the first time since dropping from public view earlier this month, a two-week absence that fueled rumors about his health and raised questions about the stability of the country’s succession process. (AP Photo)

BEIJING–Vice President Xi Jinping’s first public appearance after his highly publicized two-week disappearance came amid raging anti-Japan demonstrations sweeping China over the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Xi, who is expected to ascend to the top position of the Chinese Communist Party, was shown visiting an agricultural university in Beijing in a news program on the night of Sept. 15 by China Central Television.

The footage showed Xi, 59, donning a navy jacket and looking in good health, chatting with university officials while animatedly waving his arms. He also joined children in conducting experiments.

The party’s internal report purported that Xi was injured in a swimming pool accident.

But he did not appear to be suffering any aftereffects of the purported injury in the TV report.

Xi’s disappearance sent ripples throughout the party as foreign media and Internet posters speculated that he was suffering from liver cancer or had been the subject of a murder attempt.

A healthy Xi needed to be seen in public at the earliest opportunity, according to an official with the state-run media.

The party’s national congress, which is held every five years, is expected to start in October. But the party has yet to announce the opening date of the congress, which in the past was announced by late August.

An official close to the party said the delay represented “unprecedented confusion.”

The announcement on the congress has been postponed because some appointments in the top leadership have not been finalized yet, according to the official.

Massive anti-Japan rallies around China are taking place as the Communist Party’s top leadership is undergoing a fierce power struggle to place its members on its highest decision-making organ.

At a protest rally staged in front of the Japanese Embassy on Sept. 15, some Chinese protesters shouted harsh slogans such as “Declare war on Japan.”

A hard-line approach to the sovereignty dispute over the Senkaku Islands appears to be gaining support.

An online poll showed that more than 90 percent of respondents backed the use of armed force to resolve the dispute.

“Citizens should raise their voices in place of a weak-kneed government,” said a man in his 30s who took part in an anti-Japan protest.

A protester destroys an overturned Japanese-brand police car with an metal rod during an anti-Japan protest in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, August 19, 2012. (Reuters/Keita Van)

The Chinese government took retaliatory steps to prod the Japanese government to revoke its Sept. 11 purchase of three of the Senkaku Islands from a private owner.

Beijing repeatedly warned the Japanese government about the purchase as amounting to Japan’s assertion of its control of the islands, which the Chinese also claim and call Diaoyu.

Ranking officials with the Chinese government repeated inflammatory remarks over the Senkaku issue, fanning anti-Japan sentiment.

But such actions run the risk of backing the Chinese government into a corner.

Beijing might see protest rallies become more violent and lead to sweeping social unrest.

If Beijing cannot win concessions from Japan over the feud, it may have to face up to the ensuing public condemnation.

China’s new leadership will be forced to walk a thin line by steering clear of the possible eruption of public outrage toward itself and by averting further escalation of the confrontation with Japan, while reining in the infighting in the party and solidifying its base.

Kenji Minemura

Posted in: Economy, Politics