Apology Demanded for Anti-Japan Protest

Published April 10, 2005

| Associated Press

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura (search) summoned China's ambassador on Sunday to lodge a protest and demand an apology and compensation following a violent anti-Japan (search) rally in Beijing the day before, as a simmering diplomatic row threatened to further erode ties between the Asian heavyweights.

Machimura lodged Tokyo's protest with Chinese Ambassador Wang Yi (search) at the Foreign Ministry, urging Beijing to take steps to prevent attacks against Japanese.

"The vandalism took place not only at the Japanese Embassy and the ambassador's official residence but also at (Japanese) companies and shops. I told him (Wang) that the vandalism is an extremely serious problem," Machimura told reporters.

Tokyo also asked for a formal apology, compensation for damages and assurances that Beijing would protect Japanese nationals and prevent a recurrence, he added.

Machimura said Wang replied that both sides should stay "calm" and not let the incident hurt ties.

Wang later told reporters that Beijing didn't support the violence.

Sunday's action follows a similar complaint Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi made to Chinese envoy Cheng Yonghua about lax police security around Japan's diplomatic compound in Beijing on Saturday.

About 1,000 protesters threw rocks and bottles at the Japanese Embassy on Saturday following a march demanding a boycott of Japanese goods to oppose new textbooks that critics say whitewash the Tokyo's wartime atrocities. Protesters smashed the windows of an embassy guardhouse outside the fenced compound and wrecked Japanese-owned restaurants and other businesses.

The row over Japan's textbooks and demonstrations in China threatens to worsen already chilly relations between Asia's superpowers.

Despite growing trade and investment flows between the two sides, bilateral ties are at a low following recent clashes over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the incursion of a Chinese naval submarine into Japanese waters and exploration of natural gas fields beneath the seabed.

Last week, Japan approved history textbooks that China, South Korea and critics here say fails to address the Japanese military's brutal wartime invasion and occupation of Asian nations in the first half of the 20th century and tries to justify Tokyo's aggression, which included forcing Asian women into sexual slavery for troops.

The history books, written by nationalist scholars, were approved by Japan's Education Ministry for use beginning April 2006.

Most protests in the Chinese capital are banned, but the government allows small rallies outside the Japanese Embassy on war anniversaries.

Saturday's protest was the biggest in Beijing since 1999, when the U.S. Embassy was besieged after NATO warplanes bombed Beijing's Embassy in Belgrade during the war over Kosovo.

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