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September 17 2012 2 17 /09 /September /2012 06:46

Security tightened at Japanese embassy in Beijing as protests over islands go on

Japanese prime minister says 'the safety of our citizens' is threatened as demonstrators set fire to factories

beijing protesters
Pprotesters with the words "boycott Japanese goods" on their shirts march towards the Japanese embassy. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP
China seized by second day of violent anti-Japan protests
Riot police fire tear gas at protesters outside the city headquarters of Communist Party of China during an anti-Japan protest in Shenzhen  Photo: EPA

Security was tightened at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Sunday as crowds continued to protest in the capital and across the country in sometimes violent demonstrations over islands claimed by both nations.


The Japanese prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, said: "Unfortunately, this is an issue that is impacting the safety of our citizens and causing damage to the property of Japanese businesses."He told the public broadcaster NHK on Sunday that Japan deplored the violence, and called on both sides to maintain close communications.


Further complicating matters, Japan's newly appointed ambassador to China, Shinichi Nishimiya, died on Sunday, three days after collapsing near his home in Tokyo. No official cause of death was released. He had been appointed on Tuesday, and was to assume his post next month.


Rows of paramilitary police lined the perimeter of the embassy in Beijing as police let protesters in groups of up to 100 walk past the building. Many threw items such as water bottles, bananas, tomatoes and eggs at the embassy and chanted that the disputed East China Sea islands, which are controlled by Japan, belong to China.


Dozens carried portraits of Mao Zedong, who is often used as a rallying symbol. One man draped the Japanese flag over his dog.


Riot police stood on nearby streets, and around 20 of their vehicles were parked behind the embassy. Security forces wearing helmets and carrying shields fired tear gas into crowds in the city of Shenzhen, in southern Guangdong province. Some protesters hurled the smoking canisters back. A police vehicle was overturned but no one was reported injured.


More than 10,000 people marched in the provincial capital, Guangzhou, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. Its Guangzhou office reported that a few protesters broke into a hotel next to the Japanese consulate, smashing windows and a Japanese restaurant. It said police detained several people for damaging property. In Shanghai, hundreds of protesters chanted and waved banners opposite the Japanese consulate as about 50 paramilitary police officers stood outside. Police cordoned off the street and were allowing people to protest in groups of 50 for about five to 10 minutes before escorting them away.


Nearly 4,000 people demonstrated in the capital of China's tropical Hainan island, and largely peaceful protests occurred in seven other cities in the north, south and east "with few instances of looting and car smashing," Xinhua reported. Anti-Japanese sentiment, never far from the surface in China, has been building for weeks, touched off by moves by Tokyo and fanned by a feverish campaign in Chinese state media. Passions grew more heated last week after Japan's government purchased the contested East China Sea islands – called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan – from their private Japanese owners.

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