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