Violence fears as Chinese 'patriots' round on Japan
A MASSIVE anti-Japanese rally was due to take place in the Chinese capital Beijing today amid fears that it could turn violent.
In what could be the largest demonstration against Japan in recent years, organisers called for 20,000 "patriots" to protest against Japan’s "historical actions" - a reference to the invasion during the Second World War
Scheduled to begin at 9am in the Zhongguancun district, an area in the north of Beijing popular with Japanese firms, organisers said demonstrators should show their anger "through personal actions to make Japan responsible for what it has done" and "to let the world know that we are Asia’s great dragon".
In response, both the Japanese and American embassies issued warnings to their citizens to be on the alert.
This latest call to arms comes after several weeks of nationwide street protests, online petitions and boycotts of Japanese goods in a worrying escalation of tensions between the two countries.
Originally begun in opposition to Japan’s application to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, the protests assumed additional momentum earlier this week after the Japanese government’s approval of a new series of history textbooks that gloss over, and in some cases justify, well-documented wartime atrocities.
In addition to the street protests, some of which resulted in Japanese shop fronts having their windows smashed, an online petition against Japan’s Security Council membership bid has received more than 20 million signatures.
Since the mid-1990s, China has witnessed a new generation of young professionals - emboldened by their country’s economic success - who have begun actively campaigning for a more assertive foreign policy against Japan.
Lu Yunfei, one of the organisers of the online petition, said: "It is Japan that has stimulated our national pride. They have never taken seriously their actions during the war and they continue to teach their children lies."
His website, www.1931-9-18.org - the day Japan invaded north-eastern China - has received 830,000 signatures in the past two weeks.
Campaigning since 1997, Mr Lu has been responsible for a series of petitions and public demonstrations, including a well-publicised campaign last year to stop a Japanese attempt to build a high-speed train link between Beijing and Shanghai.
Like-minded campaigners have also been involved in a series of stunts in recent years to sail out to a disputed island chain in the East China Sea and plant the national flag.
Angered by the visits of Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s prime minister, to the Yasukuni Shrine - a Tokyo war memorial that includes the names of convicted war criminals - China’s leaders have not visited their neighbour since 1998.
Ide Kenji, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, said: "My observation is that people in China do not understand what Japan is really like.
"People in China are easily misled. Their education system has only focused on Japan’s brutal actions during the war. They don’t know how Japan has changed since then."
However, he added that most Japanese had little understanding of what they had done to upset China.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west