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    He hit me first!

    The Japanese do not permit themselves to be upstaged in the sly dig department, so the PRC’s remarks that Japan may, perhaps, not have enough “respect” (for history or from the rest of Asia) to be a member of the UN Security Council have not gone unanswered. Shinzo Abe, head of the LDP, was in Sendai today and mused,

    They [the PRC government] are supposed to host the Olympics and the World Expo. One wonders whether they’ll really be able to manage, assuming the situation continues as it is now. Doubts cannot but arise.

    The “situation” he’s talking about are this weekend’s repeat-performance protests, which were the headline news yesterday and today here. The news here has been stressing the violence of some of the protests, though it’s hard to have a good sense of how out-of-hand things really got. Reuters’s version is here:

    China has come under fire for tacitly encouraging the anti-Japanese unrest but Beijing denies the charge. But authorities have pledged to protect Japanese businesses and nationals in China.

    In the third weekend of violent protests, thousands marched Saturday to Japan’s consulate in Shanghai, smashing windows, pelting it with paint bombs and eggs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way.

    Relations between the two Asian powerhouses are at their worst in decades and China’s official Xinhua news agency put the number of protesters in Shanghai at 20,000.

    “The students and citizens spontaneously took to the street to demonstrate and protest, expressing their discontent with the right-wing forces in Japan on violating the Sino-Japanese relations,” it quoted Shanghai municipal government spokeswoman Jiao Yang as saying.

    It’s rather interesting how the PRC regime’s ability to keep protestors in check varies. Personally, I find it improbable that the protests were engineered by the Chinese government–or even encouraged in the active way we usually think of it. All kinds of unrest have been building in China, though, and it seems likely that the PRC is taking advantage of the fact that this ill-feeling is directed outward and hoping to use it as a pressure release.

    Japan itself is not a protest-heavy country, compared with its neighbors; but, of course, anti-Chinese feeling is never a really hard sell here, and there are small but real fears that some Japanese will get into the counter-protest act:

    The violence has raised concerns about a backlash in Japan, and police have tightened security at the Chinese embassy, consulates and residences after several incidents of harassment.

    A man hurled a bottle at the Chinese consulate in Osaka, western Japan, Sunday and set himself on fire when officers tried to subdue him, police said. Right-wing groups were driving around Tokyo in trucks fitted with loudspeakers, but riot police prevented them from approaching the Chinese embassy.

    For anyone who doesn’t know Japan, that “right-wing groups were driving around Tokyo in trucks fitted with loudspeakers” part is not, heaven knows, a distinguishing feature of this weekend; the exhortations to defend Japan’s purity and honor are probably a bit less generalized in tone, though. Japanese foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura is in Beijing for a meeting with the Chinese foreign ministry.

    Added on 18 April: Japan demands that China apologize for letting demonstrations get out of hand; China says it’s Japan’s responsibility to apologize first. At least the two countries’ foreign ministers, meeting this weekend in Beijing, were able to agree on something: there should be a joint China-Japan center for historical research. That’s the least likely issue to help resolve the immediate problems, but, hey–you have to start somewhere.

    BTW, here‘s the original Japanese report on the Mainichi poll referred to at the end of the Reuters story. For once, the Japanese version doesn’t contain much that was left out of the English story.

    3 Responses to “He hit me first!”

    1. Simon World says:

      Japan/China tensions (Updated April 17th)

      Note: I am just expanding now on yesterday’s coverage, starting from the Update below. The previous coverage is below the fold, in chronological order. Update April 17th * China clamped down hard on activists in Beijing, preventing large protests there. But Shanghai saw large protests. Dan Washburn has first hand reports, photos and video. There were reports of protests in around a dozen Chinese cities and the Japanese Foreign Minister’s visit to China did little to ease tensions. * Tom has accounts from Hong Kong and Shenzhen’s protests. * Fons has a comprehensive first hand account of the Shanghai protests. He also notes the continuing silence by the mainland media, following orders from the top. SE Asian Expat has several more first hand photos. * Photojournalist Philippe Roy has an excellent set of photos from the protests. * Running Dog is back from holidays just in time. First hand…

    2. John says:

      I always feel that the PRC ought to talk openly about the incursions into Tibet and Vetnam and the minor border wars with Russia and India before pointing the finger at Japan. Not to mention owning up to Tienanmen. How much revisionist history goes on over there about the Cultural Revolution?

      I do feel that Japan was a much more potent aggressor than the PRC has ever been, but that was because Japan had the power to be so. If the PRC had had Japan’s industrial output and knowhow by about 1955 when they broke with the USSR, I think there would have a major war for territory in Siberia, not just the border incidents of the late 60s and early 70s. The PRC strikes me as hypcritical as the Guo Min Dang whining about Communist atrocities and forgetting about 2/28.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Right. I don’t think it’s hypocritical to point out that Japan is glazing over history. It is hypocritical to act as if China had just been sitting there consistently being saintly and put-upon by those nasty island people all this time. That’s crap.

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