Consulate hit as anti-Japan protests spread to Shanghai

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The Independent Online

Chanting "Japanese pigs get out", protesters threw stones and broke windows at Japan's consulate and Japanese restaurants in Shanghai as tens of thousands of people defied government warnings and staged demonstrations yesterday against Tokyo's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

Trouble was reported in two other cities, but Beijing was calm as police stood guard on Tiananmen Square to block demonstrations there a day ahead of a visit by Japan's Foreign Minister for talks aimed at defusing the situation.

The third weekend of protests erupted despite government demands for calm. Communist leaders apparently worry they might damage relations with Tokyo, at their lowest point in decades.

In Shanghai, as many as 20,000 people gathered around the Japanese consulate. Police in riot helmets kept them away from the building but eggs and rocks were thrown.

The violence followed a march from City Hall by about 5,000 people carrying banners declaring in English "Say No to Japan in the Security Council", and chanted "Japanese pigs get out!" A sign outside the consulate said "Be Vicious Towards Japanese Devils".

Tensions between Tokyo and Beijing have been fuelled by the UN Security Council issue, gas resources in disputed seas and new Japanese school textbooks that, critics say, minimise the country's wartime offensives.

Some have suggested Beijing allowed the protests last weekend to support the campaign to block Tokyo's Security Council bid. It is alarmed at the proposal to give Japan - which it regards as a regional rival - a permanent seat on the UN forum. Such status carries veto power over UN actions and is held by only five governments: China, the United States, Britain, France and Russia.

However, Beijing is eager to preserve economic relations with Japan, which has some $280m invested on the Chinese mainland.

Japan and the United States warned its citizens in China about possible dangers in advance of the trouble.