- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 17, 2005

BEIJING — China yesterday rebuffed demands for an apology after rioters damaged Japanese diplomatic missions in protests over Japan’s wartime aggression and its bid for a U.N. Security Council seat, instead saying Tokyo had ?hurt the feelings? of the Chinese people.

The two Asian powers traded blame over the aggression even as Chinese authorities allowed new protests in at least six cities.

?The Chinese government has never done anything that wronged the Japanese people,? Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told his Japanese counterpart, who flew to Beijing to protest the violence.

Instead, Mr. Li said, Japan was to blame for ?a series of things that have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people? over issues such as relations with rival Republic of China (Taiwan) and ?the subject of history? — a reference to new Japanese history textbooks that critics say minimize Tokyo’s World War II-era atrocities.

Many Chinese think Japan has never truly shown remorse for offenses committed during its invasion of China, including germ warfare experiments and sex slavery of thousands of women.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura arrived amid the lowest point in bilateral relations in decades.

Ill will has been brewing over gas resources in disputed seas and Tokyo’s campaign to join China, Britain, France, Russia and the United States as a permanent member of an expanded United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Machimura called China’s failure to apologize ?very unfortunate,? Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported.

?China’s top leaders seem not to understand the huge shock that the Japanese public has felt over this issue,? Mr. Machimura was quoted as saying.

Tensions reached a boiling point after the Japanese government approved a junior high school textbook earlier this month that critics said tried to whitewash Japan’s wartime atrocities and justify its aggression in Asia in the first half of the 20th century.

On Saturday, police in Shanghai stood by as 20,000 protesters broke windows at the Japanese Consulate, vandalized restaurants and damaged cars. Last week, protesters smashed windows of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

?We believe that the lack of adequate security measures was one of the main causes of this kind of damage,? Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said. ?This kind of situation does not help in any way to improve relations between two countries.?

Beijing also was angered earlier this year when Japan and the United States appealed in a joint statement for a peaceful resolution of Taiwan’s future status.

Yesterday, thousands of protesters in the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou called for a boycott of Japanese goods, said Chiharu Tsuruoka, Japan’s vice consul-general in Guangzhou. Police stood guard outside Japan’s Guangzhou consulate.

Some have suggested that Beijing permitted earlier protests to undermine Tokyo’s Security Council campaign. Beijing regards Tokyo as a rival for regional dominance and is unlikely to want to give up its status as the only Asian government with a permanent seat and veto power on the Security Council, which has 15 members.

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