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Japan expats exercise caution in capital

By Yin Yeping (Global Times)

08:58, September 19, 2012

Amid ongoing protests outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing, some Japanese expats have told the Global Times they are worried about safety in the capital, although others have said they still feel relatively safe.

Large crowds of protesters were expected Tuesday, the 81st anniversary of the "September 18 Incident," which preceded the Japanese invasion of Northeast China in 1931.

The crowd at the embassy Tuesday was orderly, with police and security officers out in force. Roads in the surrounding areas were blocked to traffic. Staff at nearby restaurants sat outside and watched, as they had no customers.

While protests in Beijing have been relatively peaceful, and generally confined to the area near the embassy on Liangmaqiao Lu, Chaoyang district, some Japanese expats said they feel under pressure.

Watanabe Kei, the president of the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper office in China said he is very worried about his safety.

"Although our organization here is not large enough to offer any formal safety notice to the staff, we told each other in private to be cautious," he said.

"Our lives here haven't been affected but we felt the pressure and are afraid," he said. Watanabe said that he kept at ease by telling himself to trust the Chinese government on this.

The head of the Japan Foundation in Beijing, surnamed Takahashi, said that the biggest problem is that many restaurants had been forced to close.

"I won't go to [eat near] Liangmaqiao these days, since it's not that safe," he said.

Not everyone is so concerned. Ueno Takayuki, a Japanese tutor, said although he is not worried about safety, he will not speak in Japanese in public.

"I feel the protests are partly to do with the anti-Japanese mood and partly due to public discontent, and this is a way to let the mood out," he said.

Japanese actor Tsukagoshi Hirotaka told the Global Times that his friends are worried about his safety, but the situation has not impacted his life.

"We tried not to go out these days and will be doubly prudent when we have to," he said

Hirotaka said that he thinks the Chinese protestors should calm down, as their actions are making trouble not for the Japanese, but for Chinese people.

"Actually, I feel really sorry for the Chinese owners whose Japanese cars got damaged these days," he said.

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