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Chinese Protest Japan's Move on Islands
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Dozens of Chinese demonstrated outside Japan's embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, protesting against Tokyo's moves to take over a lighthouse on the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.


The islands, which Japan refers to as the Senkakus, are small and uninhabited but provide access to rich fishing grounds and possible oil deposits. Japanese right-wing activists built the lighthouse several years ago.


On February 9, Japan announced that it was taking over the structure as its builders were no longer able to maintain it. The Japan Coast Guard intends to take over its maintenance and management.


"I am here because I am Chinese," said 22-year-old Jiao Wei, one of the approximately 50 protesters who turned out despite the heavy snow. "We are here to tell Japan that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China forever. Japan's behavior has no justification under international law."


The group, which calls itself the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, wore T-shirts with "Defend the Diaoyu Islands" written on them. They carried banners with the single character, "Shame!"


Despite economic interdependence, relations between China and Japan have been impaired by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's periodic visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the nation's war dead, including Class-A war criminals.


"We don't feel any problem with it as the Senkaku Islands are undoubtedly our country's inherent territory historically and under international law," the Kyodo News Service quoted Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda as saying on the day the takeover was announced.


But China's Foreign Ministry has called the action "illegal and invalid" and a "severe provocation and infringement on China's territorial sovereignty."


Tuesday's protesters said in a statement that Japan's moves on the lighthouse were a "naked invasion of Chinese territory."


(China Daily, China.org.cn February 16, 2005)

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