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16 Arrested in Anti-Japan Protests

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, April 26, 2005; Page A12

BEIJING, April 26 -- Chinese authorities announced Tuesday that 16 youths had been formally arrested and 26 others temporarily jailed in connection with violent anti-Japanese protests that erupted 10 days ago in Shanghai.

The announcement, via the official New China News Agency, appeared to be a warning to any Chinese who might be planning more protests against Japan on the May 1 labor holiday or on May 4, the anniversary of a celebrated uprising by nationalist students in 1919.

One person also was arrested for trying to organize a May 1 protest in the eastern city of Nanjing, the agency reported. It quoted the Yangzi Evening News as saying the 20-year-old suspect was accused of threatening to set off a car bomb during a protest he had promoted in an Internet chat room.

"Police urged the public not to take part in illegal marches or demonstrations and not to publicize such activities through the Internet or cell phone short messages," the agency said.

The Beijing government, through official comments and repeated editorials in the press, has urged Chinese to avoid any repetition of the protests that erupted April 9 and April 16 in a dozen major Chinese cities. During those rallies, demonstrators hurled rocks at Japanese diplomatic buildings and businesses as police stood by. Although protests are strictly controlled in China, officials have sought to portray those demonstrations as a spontaneous outpouring against Japan following moves by Tokyo that are seen here as attempts to play down atrocities committed by its soldiers during World War II.

Such expression is understandable, officials said, but any public demonstration must be authorized and avoid what they called the "excessive behavior" that resulted in damage to Japanese property earlier this month. At the same time, Beijing has urged the Japanese government to pay heed to the feelings underlying such protests and to improve its handling of the World War II issue.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi repeated an apology for wartime abuses during a speech Friday at an Asian-African summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. But Chinese President Hu Jintao, who met with Koizumi on Saturday on the sidelines of the conference, urged him to translate the apology into action.

Specifically, Chinese officials have demanded that Koizumi halt his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where a number of generals judged to be war criminals are honored along with other Japanese war dead. Chinese also have complained about textbooks authorized by the Japanese Education Ministry that they say gloss over wartime atrocities.

In the meantime, the government appears to have decided that more protests would no longer serve its interests in the dispute with Japan. In the government announcement, several demonstrators were quoted as saying they regretted their conduct.

"I let down my university, my teachers and my students," said Yin Xiufeng, a physical education instructor who was charged with damaging signs and bars during the protest in Shanghai. "I hope others learn a lesson from me."

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