04/11/2005, 00.00
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Government nod to anti-Japanese protests

Some 40,000 people demonstrate in various Chinese cities against Japan's 'historical revisionism". Concern over an eventual permanent seat for Japan in UN Security Council and Japanese support for Taiwan is behind protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China analysts say that recent violent anti-Japanese protests have government support written all over them.

On Saturday and Sunday violent anti-Japanese protests in Beijing spread to southern province of Guangdong.

In a tightly-controlled society like that of mainland China such events could not happen without prior government approval.

Demonstrators targeted Japanese commercial interests and diplomatic missions, protesting against Japanese 'revisionism' that is minimising the atrocities committed by Japanese forces which occupied parts of China from 1931 to 1945.

On April 9, 20,000 people demonstrated in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, the largest gathering since student demonstrations were squashed during the 1989 Tiananmen rallies.

Yesterday, another 20,000 people marched in the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, calling for the boycott of Japanese goods. In Shenzhen, the great industrial city near Hong Kong, anger was also vented at Japanese stores and restaurants. About 10,000 demonstrators, including many students, stopped before a Japanese-owned supermarket, Jusco, shouting slogans and burning Japanese flags.

Although urging demonstrators to remain calm, Chinese authorities have not banned the protest marches.

In Tokyo yesterday, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura summoned Chinese ambassador Wang Yi to lodge a formal complaint and demanded compensation for damages and an apology for Saturday's rally.

Saturday, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Qiao Zonghuai, reassured Japan's Ambassador to Beijing, Koresighe Anami, that his government would prevent any act of violence.

Two factors explain what is happening in China. The first and most obvious is the decision by Japanese school authorities to adopt a history textbook that minimises Japanese crimes during that country's brutal occupation of parts of China before and during the Second World War. In fact, Japan has as yet to officially apologise for what its troops did.

The second and more important factor lies in Japan's application for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Some Far East Asia experts see the current wave of demonstrations as a lever against Japan to gain concession for Chinese agreement to a Japanese permanent seat.

Beijing is concerned that should Tokyo obtain a permanent seat with its veto power it could tie its hands on the Taiwan and bilateral issues.

Chinese leaders believe that Japan is working with the United States in support of the Taiwanese government. That suspicion was reinforced when a Japan-US security pact for the first time mentioned the Taiwan issue as a common security concern.  For Beijing Taiwan remains an internal political matter.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka is expected to visit Beijing very soon to "discuss a number of bilateral and international questions". (MA)

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