TOKYO (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters marched through Tokyo on Saturday to demonstrate against what they called China’s invasion of disputed islands that both countries claim.
This was the second major anti-China rally in Japan since ties between Asia’s top economies worsened last month when Japan detained a Chinese trawler captain whose boat collided with Japanese patrol ships near the disputed islands — called Senkaku in Japan and Diayu in China.
More than 2,000 protesters gathered in Aoyama Park, which is built on what was once a military shooting range, on Saturday afternoon. They marched through the busy Roppongi district to the Chinese Embassy, holding up Japanese flags and shouting slogans.
“The Senkaku islands belong to me and every Japanese. I am angry as our belongings were stolen,” said a 23 year-old student, Masato Yoshida.
One of the organizers of the rally was Toshio Tamogami, a former air force chief who was sacked after publishing an essay that argued that Japan was not an aggressor in World War Two.
He also organized an October 3 rally in which around 2,700 people took part, criticizing China and blasting Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s handling of the territorial dispute.
Critics charged that Kan caved in to pressure from Beijing to release the captain of the fishing trawler.
Amid the diplomatic row between the two nations, four Japanese citizens employed by construction firm Fujita Corp were detained in China on suspicion of illegally entering a military zone, but they were subsequently released.
Japan and China are trying to arrange a formal summit meeting between the two countries’ leaders at the end of October on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.
Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao both called for better ties at an informal meeting this month, but they also stressed their claims to the uninhabited islands, near potentially huge oil and gas reserves in the East China Sea.
Reporting by Olivier Fabre and Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Alex Richardson