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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 April, 2005, 05:06 GMT 06:06 UK
China rally prompts Japan protest
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura
Japan's foreign minister summoned the Chinese ambassador
Japan has protested to China after stone-throwing protesters attacked Japan's embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

About 10,000 demonstrators marched in the Chinese capital in protest at a new Japanese history textbook they believe plays down Japanese wartime atrocities.

Japanese businesses were also attacked, even though China says it mobilised a huge police force to maintain order.

On Sunday, some 3,000 people gathered outside Japan's consulate in the southern city of Ghangzhou.

Japan's foreign minister has announced he will visit China next week.

Nobutaka Machimura will meet his Chinese counterpart to discuss "a number of bilateral and international issues", a spokesman for Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

The current anti-Japanese feeling in China is also fuelled by the prospect of Japan possibly obtaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Security measures

Mr Machimura on Sunday lodged an official protest with the Chinese ambassador one day after demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and eggs at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

The ambassador, Wang Yi, later told reporters that the Chinese government did not agree with such extreme action.

Chinese paramilitary officers outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing

China also tried to mend fences by highlighting its efforts to protect Japanese interests.

"The Chinese government demanded the demonstrators to keep calm and sane, give voice to their attitude in a lawful and orderly way, and not to engage in excessive action," China's Xinhua News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

He added that a huge police force had been mobilised to "keep the situation from aggravating" and to "ensure the safety of Japanese organisations and citizens in China".

Critics of the controversial Japanese textbook say it glosses over crimes such as mass sex slavery of Asian women by Japanese troops.

But Tokyo says private companies, not the government, were responsible for the texts, and that it is up to individual school districts to decide which books they use.

On Sunday, Hong Kong cable television showed protesters with Chinese flags and banners reading "down with Japanese militarism" in Guangzhou.

A city hall spokesman said the "spontaneous demonstration" was peaceful and under control.

A Chinese retailers' association last week urged a boycott of Japanese products such as beer and coffee.

Protests on this scale are very rare in China's tightly-regulated capital.

Simmering resentment

Correspondents say the fact that Saturday's demonstration took place at all signals tacit acceptance, if not approval, by the authorities.

The protest was the largest in Beijing since 1999, when thousands marched on the US embassy after Nato planes bombed China's embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war.

Public anger against Japan simmers very close to the surface in China, the BBC's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.

Many believe Japan has never apologised properly for its wartime atrocities, she says.

More than 25 million people have signed an online petition against Japan's bid for a permanent Security Council seat.

Recent protests in other Chinese cities have turned violent, with demonstrators scuffling with police.

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