China anti-textbook protests grow larger

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

The protesters repeated their demands for a boycott of Japanese goods, to block Japan from obtaining a seat on the U.N. Security Council, and for Japan to change textbooks which they say whitewash Japan's war atrocities.

Chinese protests against the publication of a Japanese government textbook continued for a second day in China, (Sunday) as an estimated three thousand protesters marched on the Japanese consulate in Guangzhou. Thousands of protesters also marched in Shenzhen, throwing objects at Japanese businesses.

The protesters repeated their demands for a boycott of Japanese goods, to block Japan from obtaining a seat on the U.N. Security Council, and for Japan to change textbooks which they say whitewash Japan's war atrocities. Protesters burned Japanese flags while singing and shouting anti-Japanese slogans. They also carried anti-Japanese signs along with Chinese flags. Chinese view the textbook as "whitewashing" the events and actions of Japan to cast them in a more positive light.

The protests are against the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which is publishing a high-school textbook that refers to the Nanjing Massacre as an "incident" (translation) and de-emphasizes the roles of comfort women as well as the contemporary issues surrounding Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine, in honor of Japanese soldiers.

The Japanese government has claimed that the demonstrations have an "anti-Japanese sentiment," for which China should apologise. In Tokyo, Japan formally summoned Wang Yi, China's ambassador to Japan, concerning China's actions on Sunday.

"We formally demanded China’s apology and compensation," said Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura. He also said that Wang Yi replied "No" when asked for an apology.

While not issuing a formal apology through diplomatic channels, Wang claimed that China did not approve of the violent aspects of the protests.

"The (Chinese) government does not agree with extreme action," he said.

Back in Beijing, the People's Daily reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang deflected blame away from China for the recent downturn in Sino-Japanese relations.

"Japan must adopt an earnest attitude and appropriate ways to deal with major principled issues concerning the feelings of the Chinese people," Qin said. "The Japanese have to do more things conducive to enhancing mutual trust and maintaining the relations between the two countries, rather than doing the reverse," he said.


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