The Chinese are furious at a revised Japanese school textbook they say whitewashes atrocities during Japan’s 1931-’45 occupation of China and at Tokyo’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told his visiting Japanese counterpart, Nobutaka Machimura, that China was willing to continue to develop China-Japan relations taking history as a mirror.
“The Chinese government has never done anything for which it has to apologise to the Japanese people,” he said. “The main problem now is that the Japanese government has done a series of things that have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people on the Taiwan issue, some international issues including human rights and especially in its treatment of history.”
Mr Machimura flew to China yesterday to try to heal relations as new anti-Japan protests erupted in cities across the country a day after violent demonstrations in Shanghai.
He demanded that China deal with the problem swiftly and sincerely in accordance with international rules, Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.
China has come under fire for tacitly encouraging the anti-Japanese unrest but Beijing denies the charge and has pointed the finger at Tokyo’s failure to own up to its past. But authorities have pledged to protect Japanese businesses and nationals in China.
In the third weekend of violent protests, thousands marched on Saturday to Japan’s consulate in Shanghai, smashing windows, pelting it with paint bombs and eggs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way.
Relations between the two Asian powerhouses are at their worst in decades and China’s official Xinhua news agency put the number of protesters in Shanghai at 20,000.
“The students and citizens spontaneously took to the street to demonstrate and protest, expressing their discontent with the right-wing forces in Japan on violating the Sino-Japanese relations,” it quoted Shanghai municipal government spokeswoman Jiao Yang as saying. Some protesters held posters carrying messages such as Face Up to History and “The anti-Japan war is not over yet.”
Two Japanese were slightly injured in Shanghai, where thousands of Japanese firms and about 34,000 Japanese expatriates live.
Japanese Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said the violence in China could hurt the Asian giant’s global image and economy.
The downturn in Sino-Japanese ties comes at a time when rivalry and mistrust are festering despite economic ties that generate $178 billion in annual trade.