Japan outraged at China protests

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's diplomacy has come into question amid a chorus of public anger against China for not stopping violent demonstrations targeting Japanese interests.

    Demonstrators protested Japan's effort to gain a UN seat

    Japan's trade minister on Sunday called the anti-Japanese protesters

    "controlled mobs," as Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura flew to

    China for talks on the crisis between the two nations.

    In response to the latest demonstrations, a middle-aged

    man threw a glass bottle at the Chinese consulate general in Osaka

    and set his clothes on fire before dawn Sunday, police said.

    "He is seriously injured with burns on the upper body, but he is

    not in a life-threatening situation," an Osaka police spokesman told

    reporters.

    Blaming the prime minister

    Former foreign minister Makiko Tanaka, who served under Koizumi

    from 2001 to 2002 before being sacked, blamed the prime minister for

    the anti-Japanese protests by his repeated pilgrimages to a Tokyo

    war shrine despite protests from China and other neighbouring

    nations.

    Critics questioned Prime Minister
    Junichiro Koizumi's leadership

    "At a time when his government is trying hard to win a permanent

    seat (in the UN Security Council), why does he do things to provoke

    China, which has a veto?" Tanaka, who enjoys wide popularity, told a

    television talk show.

    Tanaka said Koizumi "lacks wisdom." She is the daughter of late

    prime minister Kakuei Tanaka, regarded as Japan's most influential

    politician after the second world war and instrumental in normalising ties

    with China in 1972.

    Koizumi, the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in two

    decades, has visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honours the nation's war

    dead including convicted war criminals, every year since taking

    office in 2001.

    The demonstrations broke out this month in China as well as

    South Korea after Japan approved a textbook which allegedly glosses

    over atrocities during its occupation. Protesters also objected to

    Japan's Security Council bid.

    Wishy-washy signals

    Ichiro Ozawa, deputy head of the main opposition Democratic

    Party, accused the Koizumi government of setting the stage for the

    protests by sending wishy-washy signals.

    "They have held funerals for me in South Korea and China

    recently, carrying my coffins and photographs"

    Junichiro Koizumi,
    Japanese prime minister

    Ozawa said Japan should "state its position loud and clear." 

     

    "Britain waged the Opium War with China and made a big fortune

    by selling opium. Russia did more or less a similar thing to China,"

    Ozawa said in a street speech in the northern city of Sendai on

    Saturday. "But I have never heard of movements against Britain and

    Russia."

    Koizumi made fun of himself when commenting on some of the more

    angry protests against him.

    "They have held funerals for me in South Korea and China

    recently, carrying my coffins and photographs," he quipped in a

    speech in the southern port city of Fukuoka late on Saturday. "We need

    to think of friendship without inciting confrontation."

    Shoichi Nakagawa, the minister of economy, trade and industry,

    said in a television talk show that demonstrations in China by

    "controlled mobs must be stopped."

    "We have no choice but to wonder if (China) is a law-abiding

    state," he said. "People around the world are worried if it is

    alright to conduct economic activities there."

    SOURCE: AFP


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