Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japanese Firms Brace for Violence in China over Disputed Islands (+Video)

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japanese Firms Brace for Violence in China over Disputed Islands (+Video)

Article excerpt

Japanese companies and expatriates in China battened down the hatches Monday, bracing for another wave of anti-Japanese violence in a continuing crisis over ownership of a disputed group of islands.

Japanese schools closed until further notice, Panasonic and Canon announced they were suspending operations at their Chinese plants, and Japanese firms were quietly advised by the authorities to keep their doors closed on Tuesday.

We now have very ominous signs that this will be a lasting crisis, Zhu Feng, a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, warns. At the moment there is no contact at any level between the two sides, though they urgently need to talk.

The defensive moves followed a weekend of demonstrations in more than 20 Chinese cities that saw demonstrators attack Japanese diplomatic facilities, restaurants, and other businesses. Toyota and Honda auto dealerships were set on fire in the port city of Qingdao Saturday.

The officially sanctioned demonstrations, which gathered tens of thousands of people across the country, were called to express anger at the Japanese governments decision last week to purchase from their private owner three of the disputed islands in the East China Sea. The uninhabited rocky outcrops are known in China which claims sovereignty over them as the Diaoyu and in Japan which controls them - as the Senkaku islands.

Some analysts suggest that Beijing has made a major issue out of the purchase at the behest of hardliners in the leadership, possibly including the Peoples Liberation Army.

It seems that some elements would like to put down markers for the next government, due to take over after a once in a decade leadership transition in the next few weeks. They hope to make it harder for the incoming administration to be flexible, says one Western diplomat.

Tuesday threatens to bring more violence.

Sensitive anniversary

The day marks the 81st anniversary of the Manchurian Incident, a staged attack on a Japanese railroad that provided the pretext for Japans 1931 invasion and subsequent occupation of Northeastern China. Sept. …

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