Up until this point, most of the anger over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands seemed directed one way, but since videos surfaced on the internet of the collision, it’s fanned the flames of the Japan’s anger culminating in an anti-China rally this past Saturday.
The protest opened with a chorus of the national anthem and the people, which estimates put around 4000, waved “rising sun” flags while wearing traditional kimonos and outfits. Organizers had the leaked footage of the collision playing on loop.
Toshio Tamogami, former chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, who showed up to the rally, said, “We have to tell China … what we have to say. Otherwise, we cannot maintain our relations of equals.”
The protesters didn’t bother to play nice either by keeping it just to the dispute over the islands. They also called on Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang, all sore spots for the Chinese government, to form a united front with Japan against the PRC. One posted banner read “Let’s condemn China’s military hegemony on Asia.”
In reality, the captured video has not shed any light on the dispute and both sides are still demanding it was provoked. The Chinese side says, “The video showed clearly that our small trawler was contained by at least three big Japanese coastguard patrol ships, which is like a poor child being bullied by three bruisers,” and “…our fishing boat was forced to clash with the Japanese ship as it was under great pressure.” While Japanese cry out that it was tantamount to “an act of terrorism.”
Though there were doubts at first about the videos authenticity, the Japanese government has come forth to confirm that they are the real videos of the islands clash which prompted the detainment of the Chinese vessel. Japan had originally tried to keep the video under wraps to avoid worsening the problem with a protest exactly like this. A criminal investigation to determine who is responsible for the leak is already underway.
Rumors also abound that the video was leaked by Japanese right-wingers hoping to embarrass Prime Minister Kan with the Asia-Pacific forum in Yokohama coming up where President Hu will also be. If damaging relations further was their goal, they have been very successful. The latest survey results show that a whopping 87% of Japanese believe China is “untrustworthy” compared with only 50% of respondents last year.
And so the saga continues…