A number of Japanese enterprises have suspended their operations in China before the 81st anniversary on Tuesday of the "September 18 Incident," which directly preceded Japan's invasion of Northeast China, out of concerns that tensions over the Diaoyu Islands would boil over and impact their business presence.
The remembrance occasion, widely regarded as a day of national humiliation, comes amid a heightened spat between Beijing and Tokyo as a result of the Japanese government's "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea last week.
While intensive commemorative activities and protests against Japan's move are expected on Tuesday, analysts and the public have called on people to express their opinions on the disputes in a rational manner.
On Tuesday, air-raid sirens will be heard in a large number of cities across the country, such as Shenyang, Nanchang and Zhuhai, to remind people of the day of national humiliation.
On September 18, 1931, Japanese troops blew up a section of the railway under their control near Northeast China's Shenyang and accused Chinese troops of sabotage as a pretext for war, resulting in the annexation of Northeast China and eventual all-out war in 1937.
Various memorial activities have been held in the days running up to the anniversary. In Shenyang, a memorial museum saw nearly 10,000 visitors a day, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
In Hong Kong, more than 20 activists held a sit-in outside the Japanese consulate Monday, which they said would last 36 hours. Ng Sek Io, a Macao activist who was aboard the Hong Kong boat that visited the Diaoyu Islands last month, told the Global Times that 15 activists would try making another trip to the islets on Tuesday.
Protests against Japan's nationalization of the islets are expected to continue across the country on Tuesday, after some of the protests turned violent during the past weekend, which saw the smashing of Japanese-brand cars and Japanese-funded department stores.
Prior to the anniversary, major Japanese firms, including Canon and Panasonic, suspended operations at some of their Chinese plants.
You Nan, a staff member with Panasonic's publicity department, confirmed with the Global Times by e-mail that three plants in Qingdao, Zhuhai and Suzhou had been affected by recent strong sentiments against Japan, but the situation had been stabilized.
She said operations at the plant in Qingdao have been halted for the time being as a result of a fire reported there.
A staff member with a Suzhou subsidiary of Panasonic, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times that the plant has been operating smoothly and employees are calm, though the management are considering whether to suspend operations.
Camera and printer maker Canon, meanwhile, suspended three of its four main plants Monday and Tuesday to ensure the safety of its employees, reported AFP. About 22,000 employees at the three plants in Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Suzhou have been affected, China National Radio reported.
According to Reuters, Japan's Fast Retailing said it will close 19 Uniqlo clothing outlets in China on Tuesday, up from seven on Monday. One store will be operating at shortened hours on Tuesday, compared with nine on Monday.
Meanwhile, a photographic equipment market at Beijing's Wukesong, where Japanese products are the majority of goods sold, posted an announcement on its website, saying that the market would close on Tuesday. It cited circuit maintenance as the reason for the closure.
In light of violence in some cities during the demonstrations, authorities across the country have been on high alert over protests.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei Monday called on the Chinese public to express their appeal in a rational and lawful manner. He also said that China will protect the safety of foreigners and foreign organizations in the country.
A source from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau told the Global Times that the demonstration outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing during the past weekend was orderly, and that the police had been prepared to guide the public to express their patriotic enthusiasm in an orderly way.
The city authorities in Nanjing, one of the worst hit cities during Japan's invasion, Monday said that the Party authority and city government resolutely support the public's patriotic enthusiasm and speak highly of their reasonable, powerful and restrained protests. It also warned of aggressive acts and disturbance of social order under the pretext of protest.
"We should show the world a peaceful rise of China, the progress of a society ruled by laws and the improving quality of citizens. Only by showing our patriotism in a rational manner can we defend the dignity of our country and nation," stated the city authority.
Ruan Zongze, a deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global times that the September 18 Incident has always been a bitter memory for all Chinese, and the Japanese government's recent provocation over the Diaoyu Islands has made this year's anniversary more tense.
Ruan said most of the people showed restraint during demonstrations, but unfortunately violence has weakened the public's appeal and tarnished the country's image.
"It is reasonable for people to voice their protests against Japan's move, and they should be allowed to continue making their appeals. But they should act under respect for the law," said Ruan.
Web users also voiced their support for rational demonstrations.
About 2.6 million users had called for rationality and unity while expressing their patriotism as of Monday evening.