2010年 10月 02日
Tokyo Protests Blast China's Response to Collision
Thousands of demonstrators marched through Tokyo's central shopping districts in an unusual display of nationalistic fervor, harshly criticizing China, and the Japanese government's handling of a recent territorial dispute Saturday afternoon.
"We need to send our will to the Japanese government," said Toshio Tamogami, the former chief of staff of Japan's Air Defense Force and the head of Ganbare Nippon, the group that organized Saturday's event. "Japan should have arrested the ship captain based on international law, but they [China] knows Japan wouldn't do such a thing, so we are being underestimated," he said in an interview after his speech.
Thousands of people gathered at Tokyo's Shibuya district and marched to protest China's claims to the disputed islands in the East China Sea.
.Organizers said that approximately 2,700 protestors ultimately joined the event that began in Shibuya, one of Tokyo's main shopping neighborhoods, to blast what they say has been China's overly aggressive response to the boat collision between Asia's two biggest economies. They also criticized what they considered the Japanese government's failure to stand up to China's pressure. The decision to release the Chinese ship captain and refusal to release the video of the collision added to the protestors' invective.
The crowd estimate couldn't be independently verified. Tokyo police declined to make an estimate and said "everything ended smoothly."
Rally organizers said that similar assemblies were organized in 30 prefectures nationwide as right-wing activists are firing up nationalistic rhetoric and gaining interest that extends beyond their normal members, showing Japan's ongoing sensitivity over territorial disputes.
"Japan cannot stay quiet when China overreacts in such a way so I felt the need to participate today," said Yuri Kima, 28, who works in information technology. Ms. Kima said that today's rally was the first time she attended a political demonstration. "The Senkaku Islands belong to Japan without a doubt, and China definitely reacted with a much bigger stick than necessary while Japan's diplomatic response was too weak."
While right-leaning rallies often attract older generations, Ms. Kima said that the latest incident is energizing younger Japanese who are gathering force in Internet chat rooms and Japan's popular social networking site Mixi. She estimates an online forum she frequents called "My Nihon" attracts about 30,000 people.
Awash in a blanket of Japanese flags fluttering in the slight breeze, the crowd cheered as a handful of speakers took the makeshift stage set up outside Japan's public broadcaster NHK in Shibuya. For one hour and a half, speakers blasted China and the Japanese government. As the afternoon sun beat down on the crowd, Mr. Tamogami, who delivered the opening remarks, began his speech saying China "stupidly" claims the Senkaku Islands, also known as Diaoyu in China, as its own and if the Japanese people do not stand up to such claims they will lose control of the territory.
"China is reacting like the yakuza," said Masanori Miya, 41, salesman in Tokyo, referring to Japanese gangsters. A regular participant in anti-China oriented rallies, Mr. Miya said that China-Japan relations are "definitely approaching the breaking point."
It's unclear how much the sentiments of the crowd have been embraced by mainstream politicians. No prominent political leaders attended the event. Organizers said they invited former prime minister Shinzo Abe, known for taking a hardline against China, but that a conflict prevented his attendance. He has gone to previous events organized by the group.
While Saturday's rally appeared peaceful, the extended spat with Beijing has fueled some scattered events of more extreme forms of protest in Japan. China's National Tourism Administration Friday issued a travel warning for Japan, citing an alleged attack against a Chinese tour bus by Japanese right wing activists in the southern city of Fukuoka.
The statement said: "Chinese tourists and tour groups currently in Japan or planning to go to Japan in the near future to watch their travel safety." According to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, a motorcade of some 60 trucks of right wingers held a anti-China rally, blocking the path of tour buses carrying Chinese tourists headed back to a cruise ship after sightseeing in the city. The incident delayed the group's departure by 30 minutes but no one was injured, the newspaper said.
In separate incidents, Japanese men have been arrested over the past week for throwing flares or smoke-bombs at Chinese consulates in Nagasaki and Fukuoka.
Saturday's Tokyo rally attracted activists drawn to a variety of causes. A couple of people distributed Free Tibet fliers. Another man walked silently among the protestors dressed as a ninja in the pale blue colors of the Uighur flag. A pastel-colored banner with the name of a women's activist group, translated roughly as "Women Who Love the Country," was hoisted above baby strollers and a group of some 30 members.
After the speeches, the crowd swelled by about another thousand as the demonstrators took to the streets. The rally snaked through Tokyo's congested sidewalks of Shibuya, spanned the main strip of the tony Omotesando neighborhood, and up to trendy Harajuku. Onlookers were taken aback by the large following as they waited to cross the street, or covered their ears from the parade's pronouncements blaring through megaphones and sound trucks: "Stand up! Fight for Japan! Protect peace in Asia!"
Some bystanders like 29-year-old Emmie Hama were impressed. "I thought it's nice to see them working hard. Japanese people usually don't have strong will power," said the sales clerk as a third chunk of protestors passed an intersection. A fur cap falling over her eyes heavy with layers of black mascara, she said she didn't agree with Japan's decision to release the ship captain and that she would like the government to release the video of the collision so she can personally judge which side was in the wrong. She said she knew of the rally but could not participate because of work.
Others were not as taken with the loud intrusion on their Saturday afternoon. "I think it's a little overboard. This kind of reaction won't resolve anything" said Anna Karaki, 19, a second year student at Tokyo Women's College. Ms. Karaki then wondered why the march was in Shibuya at all and not taking place closer to where the government buildings are located. "It's an inconvenience to people who want to cross the street."