Image: Man holds banner while marching in an anti-Japan protest in downtown Zhengzhou, China.
A man holds a banner reading "Down with Japan, Protect Diaoyu Island" while marching during an anti-Japan protest in downtown Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan province, Saturday. news services
updated 10/16/2010 12:16:51 PM ET 2010-10-16T16:16:51

Thousands of protesters in China and Japan marched angrily in the streets Saturday to denounce the other country's claims to disputed islands.

In China, photos from the southwestern city of Chengdu and the central city of Zhengzhou showed hundreds of people marching with banners and signs protesting Japan's claim on what China calls the Diaoyu islands. Japan calls them the Senkaku islands.

Japanese retailers Ito-Yokado and Isetan said protesters in Chengdu broke windows and showcases in their stores, Kyodo News agency reported.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency said more than 2,000 people protested in Chengdu and thousands of college students gathered in the northern city of Xian.

The report was in English only. The protests were not reported in Chinese-language state media, and many comments and photos were quickly removed from mainland websites.

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In Japan, thousands of protesters marched through Tokyo to demonstrate against what they called China's invasion of the disputed islands.

This was the second major anti-China rally in Japan since ties between Asia's top economies worsened last month when Japan detained a Chinese trawler captain whose boat collided with Japanese patrol ships near the disputed islands.

Image: Anti-China march in central Tokyo
Koji Ueda  /  AP
Japanese protesters spread a banner with a message reading, "We Don't Forgive China's Invasion of Senkaku Islands," during a march down the streets in central Tokyo on Saturday.

More than 2,000 protesters gathered in Aoyama Park, which is built on what was once a military shooting range. They marched through the busy Roppongi district to the Chinese Embassy, holding up Japanese flags and shouting slogans.

"The Senkaku islands belong to me and every Japanese. I am angry as our belongings were stolen," said a 23 year-old student, Masato Yoshida.

One of the organizers of the rally in Tokyo was Toshio Tamogami, a former air force chief who was sacked after publishing an essay that argued that Japan was not an aggressor in World War II.

He also organized an Oct. 3 rally in which around 2,700 people took part, criticizing China and blasting Prime Minister Naoto Kan's handling of the territorial dispute.

Critics charged that Kan caved in to pressure from Beijing to release the captain of the fishing trawler.

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Protests in China are often quickly shut down or heavily controlled. It was not clear whether the Chinese organizers had permission to demonstrate Saturday.

The Chinese demonstrations appeared to be in response to online reports about the planned protest in Tokyo. Some also called for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Chinese dissident who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said China had contacted Japanese officials to "express serious concern" over the Tokyo protest, according to a statement on the ministry's website.

Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu made no mention of the anti-Japan protests in China — a difference from last month, when the ministry responded to far smaller protests outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai with a call for calm.

Police in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Xian and Zhengzhou would not confirm Saturday's protests, saying they would not talk to the media.

Japan and China are trying to arrange a formal summit meeting between the two countries' leaders at the end of October on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.

Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao both called for better ties at an informal meeting this month, but they also stressed their claims to the uninhabited islands, near potentially huge oil and gas reserves in the East China Sea.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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