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Citizens angry at Tokyo take to the streets

By Zhang Yunbi in Beijing, Xu Junqian in Shanghai and Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou  (China Daily)

09:32, September 17, 2012

Residents protest against the Japanese government's "purchase" of China's Diaoyu Islands in front of the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Sunday. (China Daily / Zhu Xingxin)

Residents in China's major cities took to the streets on Sunday to protest Japan's latest move in its illegal claim to the Diaoyu Islands, which have belonged to China for centuries.

Concerned authorities have taken measures to crack down on illegal smash and grab incidents and guard foreigners and foreign organizations. Both on the streets and on the Internet, there have been mounting calls for "rational patriotic expression" amid the enthusiasm for asserting Chinese sovereignty.

In the wake of Saturday's protests, thousands of people in Beijing continued to gather in front of the Japanese embassy in China on Sunday to protest the Japanese government's decision to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands from the "private owner".

Japan illegally seized the islands at the end of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). But key declarations following World War II legally returned the islands to China.

Streets surrounding the Japanese embassy in Beijing were tightly guarded by police over the weekend, and protesters paraded along the embassy's gate in groups with flags and banners.

Demonstrators chanted slogans including "return the Diaoyu Islands", with several throwing plastic water bottles into the embassy's yard, but there was no violence.

Few embassy staff left the building during the day, and the Japanese national flag in the yard has been removed.

In Shanghai, thousands of residents took to the streets in front of the Japanese Consulate General in the west of the city.

"We want our voices and discontent to be heard," said Liu Yan, a 38-year-old restaurant owner from Sichuan province who now lives in Shanghai.

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