August 5, 2008 / 5:15 AM / 11 years ago

Japan to protest to China over reporters' beating

TOKYO, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Japan plans to protest strongly to China over the alleged detention and beating by police of two Japanese journalists covering a bombing on Monday, a top government official said.

The two men, one a photographer with the regional Chunichi Shimbun newspaper and the other a reporter for Nippon Television, were detained near the site of the attack in Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region, which saw 16 police killed only four days before the Beijing Olympics begin, spokesmen for the two companies said on Tuesday. [ID:nPEK68583]

The journalists were then taken to a police building where they were beaten, before being released about two hours later. Neither was seriously injured, the spokesmen said.

“Our embassy is of course gathering information from the authorities,” said Japan’s top government spokesman, Nobutaka Machimura. “I believe there is no mistake, so we plan to protest strongly,” he added.

Police may have detained the reporters on suspicion that they were taking pictures of a nearby military facility, said spokesman Kenji Kikata of Nippon Television.

“It is extremely unfortunate that a working reporter who followed the correct procedures should be the victim of violence,” the company said in an official statement.

Chinese police have arrested two ethnic Uighurs, members of a minority that resents Chinese control of the region, for Monday’s bomb attack, which marred the final countdown to the Olympics.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, a long-term advocate of warmer ties with China, is set to attend the opening ceremony in Beijing on Friday. (Editing by Valerie Lee)

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