Riots and gunshots inflame China-Japan stand-off

Japan is disappointed by China’s lack of regret over anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities and its failure to explain how the rallies escalated into riots that left windows smashed at Japanese diplomatic missions, the top government spokesman said today.

Japan is disappointed by China’s lack of regret over anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities and its failure to explain how the rallies escalated into riots that left windows smashed at Japanese diplomatic missions, the top government spokesman said today.

“No matter what the reasons are, violence is not acceptable,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters. “We find it regrettable that no clear explanation was presented” during talks yesterday in Beijing between foreign ministers from Japan and China.

“We find it extremely regrettable” that there was no apology, Hosoda said.

Protesters smashed windows of Japanese diplomatic missions in Beijing and Shanghai during the past week as part of protests in several Chinese cities this month over several issues, including Tokyo’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

China’s protests have led to retaliatory actions in Japan, including vandals smearing red paint on the Chinese ambassador’s residence in Tokyo. Beijing has lodged a protest to Japan’s government.

Today, shots were fired at a Chinese language school in Tokyo hitting a door but causing no injuries, police and media said. Police said they found several bullet holes in the glass door at the entrance of the Japan-China Friendship Centre.

A razor blade with an anonymous note complaining about the protests was delivered by mail last week to the Chinese consulate in Fukuoka, southern Japan, Kyodo News agency reported.

At China’s Consulate in Osaka yesterday, a man set himself on fire in apparent anger at the protests in China. Police extinguished the flames and rushed him to hospital with burns on his body.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura yesterday demanded an apology for the damage when he met in Beijing with Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing. But Li rebuffed the demand, saying Tokyo has hurt the feelings of Chinese.

Japan’s relations with China have hit their lowest point in decades amid violent rallies across the mainland fuelled by anger over Japan’s wartime aggression and anxieties about Tokyo’s military and diplomatic ambitions.

Many Chinese believe Japan has never fully shown remorse for offences committed during its invasion of China in the first half of the 20th century.

In Beijing today, Machimura met with Japanese company officials and vowed to do his best to resolve the problems.

“I’m sure (they) are deeply troubled and worried,” Machimura said in news televised here on the Fuji Television. “We all want Japanese companies to keep holding on and continue to do well.”

The Japanese business said they worried that the tensions would harm their businesses, fearing their buildings could be vandalised and products boycotted.

New US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer shared concerns about the growing tension.

“We are concerned about the tension that has existed here recently,” he said, adding that history was a matter that each country has to deal with individually. “History is important, and the accurate portrayal of history is important.”

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