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Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

Keep companies, citizens safe, Kan tells Beijing

Staff writer

The demonstrations against Japan staged over the weekend in China were very unfortunate and both sides must exercise calm, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Monday as the protests dragged on for a third consecutive day.

News photo
Counseling calm: Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaks at the Upper House Audit Committee on Monday. KYODO PHOTO

"We have expressed our regret to Chinese authorities and strongly urged them to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and companies," Kan told the Upper House Audit Committee.

"Japan and China need to make efforts in a calm manner to deepen the strategic relationship, which is of mutual benefit."

On Saturday, more than 10,000 people reportedly took to the streets in at least three cities in Sichuan Province to protest Japan's control of the Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by in China and known as the Diaoyu.

Demonstrators rallied in front of the Chinese Embassy the same day in Tokyo's Roppongi district to protest Beijing's handling of the Senkaku row.

"It's important that the government and people of Japan and China tackle this dispute in a calm manner," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a regular news conference.

The violence escalated somewhat on Monday, with about 100 people reportedly turning violent in Wuhan, clashing with police, attacking a Japanese-owned shop and smashing a Japanese car.

According to a Hong Kong radio station, protesters waving a Chinese flag marched in the streets of the city, calling on the public to boycott Japanese products and chanting anti-Japanese slogans.

Government-funded RTHK radio said one photograph taken at the scene in Wuhan shows that a Japanese car was flipped over.

The police took away some student protesters while blocking the roads to stop the march, the report said.

The protests in China, the largest since April 2005, were sparked by a diplomatic row following Tokyo's arrest of a Chinese trawler captain near the Senkaku Islands after Sept. 7 collisions between his trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol boats trying to board the vessel in an attempt to get it to clear out.

Meanwhile, the government and the Democratic Party of Japan decided Monday to allow video footage of last month's collisions to be shown to a Diet panel, a DPJ lawmaker said.

Information from Kyodo added

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