Japanese Official Visits China Amid Protests

Japan's (search) foreign minister arrived in Beijing Sunday to deliver a protest over violent anti-Japanese rallies, as Chinese police allowed new demonstrations over Tokyo's wartime past and its bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council (search) seat.

Tokyo denounced anti-Japanese violence in Shanghai, where police on Saturday let 20,000 rioters break windows at Japan's Consulate, vandalize restaurants and damage cars.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura as saying before his departure that he would tell Beijing that, "It's possible that Japan-China relations as a whole, including on the economic front, could decline to a serious state."

On Sunday, about 1,000 protesters marched toward the Japanese Consulate in the northeastern city of Shenyang but police kept them away from the building. The crowd threw stones, but a Japanese diplomat, Shoji Dai, said there was no major damage and the protest broke up after about 90 minutes.

In the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, thousands of protesters called for a boycott of Japanese goods outside Jusco, a Japanese-owned department store, a consular official said. Smaller, peaceful rallies were held in nearby Dongguan and Zhuhai and in Chengdu in the west.

Police tried to block a planned protest in the southern business capital of Guangzhou, shooing passers-by away from a stadium where a march was to start. Police stood guard outside Japan's Guangzhou Consulate.

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have soured amid disagreements over the Security Council, gas resources in disputed seas and new Japanese history textbooks that critics say minimize Japan's atrocities during its conquest of China (search) and other Asian nations.

Machimura, due to meet his Chinese counterpart later Sunday, said he would protest about the rallies and China's failure to stop them.

A dozen police officers stood guard in the arrivals area of the Beijing airport as Machimura's flight from Tokyo landed, but there was no sign of protesters. Machimura didn't speak to reporters.

Machimura was also expected to renew Tokyo's demand for an apology and compensation for damages after stone-throwing protesters broke windows at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last weekend.

Some have suggested that Beijing permitted earlier protests to undermine Tokyo's Security Council campaign. Beijing regards Tokyo as a rival for regional dominance, and is unlikely to want to give up its status as the only Asian government with a permanent seat on the U.N. council.

But Beijing called last week for calm, apparently afraid of causing more damage to relations with Tokyo or encouraging others to take to the streets to demonstrate against corruption or demand political reforms.

The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily called in a front-page editorial Sunday for the public to "maintain social stability."

It didn't mention the protests, but said "frictions and problems of various kinds ... can only be settled in an orderly manner by abiding by the law and with a sober mind."

Meanwhile, Japan's trade minister warned the violence would hurt China's reputation and economy.

"People around the world are wondering whether it's all right to pursue economic activity (in China). It's worrisome," Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa was quoted as saying Sunday by Japan's Kyodo News Agency.

On Sunday, some 500 people were carrying signs outside a Jusco branch in Guangzhou, calling for a boycott, said Chiharu Tsuruoka, Japan's vice consul general in Guangzhou.

In Shenzhen, about 1,000 demonstrators were camped outside another Jusco store, while two more groups — one as big as 10,000 — marched past the area, Tsuruoka said.

Hong Kong Cable TV showed the Shenzhen protesters holding Chinese flags, singing the Chinese national anthem and chanting "Down with Japan!"

On Saturday, thousands of police watched as demonstrators — some shouting "Kill the Japanese!" — threw stones, eggs and plastic bottles and broke windows at the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai. The crowd vandalized Japanese restaurants and damaged Japanese-made cars.

Shanghai's government blamed Japan for the violence, saying the demonstrations were prompted by "Japan's wrong attitudes and actions on a series of issues such as its history of aggression," the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing city government spokeswoman Jiao Yang.

On Sunday, the consulate was ringed by hundreds of police, some armed with shields. Its walls were splattered blue and black from paint bombs. Access roads were blocked off and a small crowd of onlookers gathered nearby, but none appeared to be protesters.

Many Chinese believe Japan has never truly shown remorse for atrocities committed during its pre-World War II invasion of China.

Thousands of people held peaceful protests Saturday in Hangzhou and Tianjin. In Beijing, hundreds of police blanketed Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital to block a planned demonstration.