By Sina English
Japanese authorities yesterday questioned the 10 Japanese, including Tokyo city assembly members, who swam ashore on one of the Diaoyu Islands on Sunday, an act that prompted demonstrations in 10 Chinese cities.
Japan's chief Cabinet spokesman Osamu Fujimura called the landing "regrettable" because it was done without government approval.
Japan also stressed that the feud over the islands in the East China Sea should not damage ties between Asia's two biggest economies.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Chinese cities on Sunday, with groups overturning cars of Japanese brands and shouting slogans denouncing Japan's claims to the islands.
"Both countries do not want the issue to affect overall bilateral ties. The Sino-Japanese relationship is one of the most important bilateral ties for Japan, and it is indispensable for the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region for China to play a constructive role," Fujimura told a news conference.
"We would like to continue to deepen mutually beneficial relations between Japan and China, keeping a broader perspective in mind," he said.
"Regarding the protests in China, we are asking, above all, to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals."
The protests in part reflected bitter memories of Japan's occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s.
Chinese mainstream media were critical of Japan, but some said violent protest was not the way forward.
"Japan has made a series of mistakes in the Diaoyu Islands issue and has hurt the Chinese people's feelings," said China Youth Daily.
"The young people's patriotism is laudable ... but for a selected number of those who are smashing their fellows' vehicles, damaging public property, that shows foolishness. This severely disrupts social order, injures the cities' image, and furthermore, affected China's image."
In Tokyo, Japan's central government also faces a tough decision on whether to let the Tokyo Metropolitan government send officials to the islands to conduct a survey as part of a bid to buy the islands from their private Japanese owners.
Fujimura said the government had returned the Tokyo government's application to land on the islands, which the central government currently leases from its owners, because not enough information had been provided. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara proposed the purchase in April, prompting Noda to say the central government wanted to buy them instead.
Ishihara acknowledged the move was largely intended to put pressure on the national government to play a bigger role in the islands "administration." He is now pushing the envelope even further by seeking permission from the central government to send experts there to study development possibilities and environmental issues.
Amid heightened strain between Japan and China over the Diaoyu Islands, the United States marines and Japan Self-Defense Force personnel will kick off a 37-day joint landing drill starting today, only adding more fuel to the flame.
An official of Japan’s Defense Ministry was quoted by the Sankei Shimbun as saying, “the U.S. and Japan conduct the drill aimed at retaking Diaoyu Islands in case they are invaded by Chinese military forces.” Full story