China Detains 2 in Attack on Japan Envoy’s car

As tensions with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands have led to anti-Japanese protests, Xinhua reports the Chinese foreign ministry has briefed Japan on the investigation of a recent incident in which the Japanese ambassador’s car was attacked by protesters:

 A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that progress has been made in the investigation over an incident involving the Japanese ambassador’s car, and China has briefed Japan on the investigation.

Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press conference.

Reports say the car carrying Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa was forced to stop by two cars on his way back to the embassy on Aug. 27. A man then emerged from one of the vehicles, pulled off the flag on Unichiro Niwa’s car and fled.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s office said on the evening of Aug. 27 that relevant authorities were seriously investigating the incident.

According to The Associated Press, two men were detained over the attack:

The men, aged 23 and 25, are being held for disturbing public order, and another man has been issued a warning, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It said they admitted that they committed the Aug. 27 attack, which came during a flare-up in tensions over a disputed group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed deep regret over the incident and said authorities would work to prevent a recurrence. Beijing faces a constant struggle to contain anti-Japanese sentiment that could harm relations with Tokyo or turn on the rulers in Beijing. Many Chinese still resent Japan’s brutal World War II occupation of much of China and are quick to take offense at perceived slights from Tokyo.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric on the pacific has softened, but tensions between China and Japan continue as Japanese surveyors visit the disputed territory, from Arirang:

Beijing reiterated Monday that China holds indisputable sovereignty over an island chain in the East China Sea known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan and is protesting Tokyo’s move to purchase some of the islands in dispute.
On Sunday, a survey team organized by the Tokyo metropolitan government arrived in waters near the islands to assess the islands’ topography.
Japanese media had reported earlier that the Japanese government agreed to buy three of the uninhabited islands from a private Japanese owner for roughly 27 million dollars by month’s end.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Hong Lei, on Monday condemned Japan’s actions, dismissing them as illegal and invalid.
Moreover, Hong warned that Washington should not intervene in the territorial row between the two Asian countries.

Tokyo’s governor has also responded to China’s growing assertiveness in the area, from The Financial Times:

China’s growing assertiveness in its surrounding seas has recently forced Japan to fend off Chinese maritime surveillance boats and brick-hurling Hong Kong activists from the Senkakus, a group of isolated islands in the East China Sea, over which both countries claim sovereignty.

Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo’s outspoken governor, on Monday criticised the central government as “rude, despicable, a humbug”, after the government’s chief spokesperson suggested it was close to buying the islands from their private owner.

The central government currently leases the islands from their owner while the nationalistic Mr Ishihara wants Tokyo to buy the islands and build infrastructure, such as port facilities for sheltering fishing boats and a lighthouse, in a tangible show of Japan’s sovereignty.

Mr Ishihara clearly has many supporters among the general public. Since he unveiled his plan, the Tokyo government has collected as much as Y1.5bn ($19m) in donations from private citizens.

See also Ministry of Truth: Anti-Japanese Protests, via CDT.