The Straits Times
Published on Sep 14, 2012

Japan warns citizens in China to be cautious after assaults


SHANGHAI (AFP) - Japan has issued a safety warning to its citizens in China after six "serious" cases of assault or harassment, a Japanese diplomat said on Friday, amid rising tensions over disputed East China Sea islands.

The Japanese government issued a warning on Thursday and detailed some of the cases reported in Shanghai, home to more than 60,000 Japanese citizens, the diplomat said.

In one case, a group of several Japanese having a late dinner were attacked though no one was seriously injured, the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai said in a statement posted on its website.

The consulate said another case involved a Chinese person throwing a bowl of hot noodles with soup at the face of a Japanese national. Other cases included Japanese nationals being kicked, hit by bottles or having a drink poured on them, it said. In one case, a Chinese man on a bike tried to force a taxi driver from taking a Japanese passenger.

The incidents in the financial hub of Shanghai came after the Japanese government announced the completion of its purchase of the disputed islands, which it administers and calls Senkaku, but which China claims as Diaoyu.

"The Japanese government has repeatedly asked the Chinese government to ensure safety of Japanese nationals and companies," the consulate said in the statement.

"But we ask that you take full precautionary measures to ensure your safety," it said.

Such measures included being careful at night, staying away from public places and refraining from speaking in Japanese in public places, said the Japanese diplomat, who asked not to be identified.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Thursday, singing the Chinese national anthem and waving flags, to condemn Tokyo's purchase of a disputed island chain.

The latest demonstration came after the Japanese government this week nationalised three islands in the disputed chain.

More than 20 cities have seen anti-Japanese protests in the past month and the car of the Japanese ambassador to China was targeted in Beijing when a man ripped the flag off the vehicle amid the territorial row.