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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
China-Japan press in war of words
Chinese protesters set light to a Japanese flag
The Chinese press has levelled some bruising invective against Japan this week, while Japan's newspapers have given a robust response to China's protests.

"If Japan depends on distorting history, acts boorishly in international relations and depends on military power, it cannot become a political power," said a writer in Beijing's Guangming Daily.

Criticism of Japan has grown in China since Tokyo's approval of a textbook that many say whitewashes Japan's wartime atrocities.

A correspondent for China Radio International's bi-weekly Shijie Xinwen Bao said Japan was "denying history and beautifying aggression".

Japan should "engage in introspection and feel ashamed" over its war history, said The Beijing News.

Seeds of dispute

China Youth Daily's Tokyo correspondent criticised Japan for fuelling tension further with seabed oil and gas test drilling, on top of the textbook affair and Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

"The conflict over East China Sea resources will cause the contradictions and opposition in Sino-Japanese relations to continue to escalate, and they have already reached a dangerous state of direct resistance," the article said.

Japan's UN ambitions were seen by Shanghai's Liberation Daily as part of an attempt by the US to win a "principle ally in Asia", to train a pro-American proxy in Asia and "encircle the rise of great nations".

The Communist Party People's Daily commented brusquely: "If Japan wants to convince others on becoming a permanent member of the Security Council to maintain world peace and security, it must also carry out self-restraint over its own immoderate actions seeking so-called national interests."

Calmer voices

But voices seeking restraint were also heard in the press this week. Writing in Hong Kong's Ming Pao, International Relations Professor Shi Yinhong asked anti-Japanese demonstrators not to tarnish the Japanese people as a whole.

The key to breaking out of historical difficulty and opening up the future is in Japan's hands
People's Daily
Cautioning against aggression, he said the "Chinese government and Chinese public must make efforts, use methods that are fair and reasonable and that are able to attract the support of the majority of people".

People's Daily also took a sober view, saying "the key to breaking out of historical difficulty and opening up the future is in Japan's hands".

Media coverage

China's official state television CCTV-1 chose not to cover the latest anti-Japanese demonstrations on Saturday, and neither did its international channel CCTV-4. But the official Xinhua news agency did report the protests in Shanghai briefly, both in its English and Mandarin services.

According to AFP, the Chinese government routinely censors news it considers too sensitive, and has been concerned the anti-Japan rallies could get out of control and turn into protests against domestic issues.

Reports of the latest anti-Japan protests, however, did appear in Hong Kong's media.

South China Morning Post said on Saturday that in Beijing, "mobile text messages have called for people to gather at Xidan Square, a major shopping district, at 0900 today and make their way to Tiananmen Square".

Reaction in Japan

Japan's largest daily Yomiuri Shimbun said this week the anti-Japanese demonstrations had triggered "anger and bewilderment" in the ruling and opposition parties, causing some officials to reschedule visits to China.

"China should admit blame for vandalism
Nihon Keizai Shimbun

"China should admit blame for vandalism" said a headline in Nihon Keizai Shimbun, after damage to Japan's embassy in Beijing last week. In its lead editorial it said it was "absurd" that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qing Gang should say the current state of Japan-China relations was Japan's fault.

Tokyo Shimbun said Japan-China relations were "the worst since the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 1972". On the oil-drilling, the paper urged Japan and China to look for a way in which both countries could benefit.

Meanwhile Japan's Mainichi Shimbun urged Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to "exert leadership to make the foreign ministerial talks a trigger for a summit discussion" of the oil exploration issue.

Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest daily, ran an editorial this week saying Japan must proceed towards oil and gas drilling in the East China Sea "carefully" so as not to cause any misunderstanding.

It called the outbreak of anti-Japanese violence "disconcerting".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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