Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japan Takes Cautious Tone in Dispute with Increasingly Assertive China

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Japan Takes Cautious Tone in Dispute with Increasingly Assertive China

Article excerpt

Tokyo is running short of options in dealing with its increasingly assertive giant neighbor over disputed islands in the East China Sea, as the United States attempts to remain neutral and calls for calm from both sides.

In China, anti-Japanese demonstrations have now spread to as many as 100 cities as tensions mount over Japans purchase of islands it calls the Senkaku and China calls the Diaoyu. The islets, which were owned by a Japanese family, lie between the two countries.

China reacted angrily to the brief landing Tuesday of two Japanese protesters on the main island of the group, even as a large flotilla of Chinese fishing vessels and a separate group of surveillance ships were heading for the disputed territories.

The unlawful landing of the Japanese right-wingers on the Chinese territory of the Diaoyu islands was a gravely provocative action violating Chinese territorial sovereignty, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei in an issued statement.

The Japanese government has been noticeably cautious in its own recent pronouncements on the dispute, no doubt wary of inflaming passions further in China, where Sept. 18 is remembered as the day of the Liutiaohu (Manchurian) Incident that was used as an excuse by Japan to invade and occupy Manchuria.

Japans colonization of a large swath of northeast China is still regarded as one of the most humiliating incidents in recent Chinese history by many of its people.

The government is trying to stop any further effects on Japanese people in China, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, following reports of Japanese businesses in China being attacked and many companies suspending their operations there out of fear for employee safety.

At another press conference later in the day, when Chinese patrol boats had entered the territorial waters around the islands, Mr. Fujimura simply confirmed the ships had been sighted and referred reporters to the Japan Coast Guard for further details.

Though it doesnt want to be seen as buckling under pressure from Beijing, the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has little strength with which to face an angry China, unpopular as it is at home and facing a general election it is likely to lose. …

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