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Anger erupts at Japanese landing

By Zhang Yunbi and Zhou Wa  (China Daily)

08:20, August 20, 2012

Growing concern that tension over islands may cause damage to ties

Japanese nationalists landed on the Diaoyu Islands on Sunday, provoking strong protests from both the government and the Chinese people.

The Japanese move, in response to a group of Chinese activists landing last week on the islands that belong to China, comes as the United States stepped up efforts to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. This will complicate the regional situation, Chinese analysts said.

About 150 Japanese lawmakers and members of right-wing groups arrived on Sunday morning in waters off China's Diaoyu Islands to "mourn soldiers who died in World War II". Ten nationalists then landed on the islands, waving Japanese flags, Kyodo News Agency reported.

The landing, the third of its kind by Japanese nationalists within the year, is the latest Japanese attempt to display its so-called sovereignty over the islands. The disputes over the islands have been fanned after Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara initiated a plan in April to purchase the islands from their so-called Japanese owners.

Beijing on Sunday summoned the Japanese ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, to lodge solemn representations over the landing and urged Tokyo to "properly handle the issue and avoid seriously damaging China-Japan relations".

Protests broke out in more than 10 Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Sichuan province, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The protesters marched on major roads, gathered around main Japanese landmarks and waved Chinese flags. They shouted "Defend China's territory" and "Japan, get out of the Diaoyu Islands!"

One Japanese government official expressed his concern to Kyodo that the landing by the nationalists may lead to a situation that is difficult to resolve.

Zhou Yongsheng, an expert on Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said it is understandable that the Japanese move aroused anger.

The sentiment displayed by protesters will influence Chinese policymakers and Beijing may take a tougher line with Tokyo, Zhou said.

But Feng Zhaokui, a Japanese studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that diplomacy should not be "hijacked" by public opinion.

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