Tokyo: The government and the private sector stepped up their efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in China amid escalating anti-Japan sentiment triggered by conflicting claims over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands.
Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who cut short an overseas trip, held a meeting in Tokyo with senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and confirmed that Japan will request China to make sure that its citizens are protected from the spread of anti-Japan protests, resulting in violent attacks in some cities.
Many Japanese companies, including Panasonic Corp. And Hitachi Ltd., issued warnings to their employees working in China.
Teijin Ltd., a major chemical company, advised its employees to refrain from making non-essential trips to China and cautioned those already in China not to go outside.
The scale of protests across China yesterday, with rallies taking place in at least 28 cities, was the biggest since Tokyo and Beijing normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.
A series of anti-Japan demonstrations have been held to denounce Japan`s purchase of three of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a private owner to put them under state control.
The uninhabited islands, administrated by Japan for many years even before it purchased them, have been claimed by China since the 1970s after studies indicated there may be potentially lucrative gas reserves in the vicinity.
In China, the islands are known as Diaoyu.
After attending the foreign and defense ministerial talks in Sydney on Friday, Gemba had been scheduled to return home Saturday evening, but he brought forward his departure in the wake of the intrusion of six Chinese surveillance vessels into Japan`s territorial waters near the Senkakus on Friday. (KYODO)