Sun, Nov 14, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Japanese press blasts China over sub incident

UNITY Japan's press was united in its call for an apology from China after a submarine entered Japanese waters, but Beijing has stayed silent


Japan's media said yesterday the country's distrust of China had grown with the intrusion of a Chinese nuclear submarine, as Beijing stayed silent for a second day on Tokyo's demands for an apology.

"Tokyo had every reason to request an apology from Beijing for its violation of Japanese sovereignty and demand it ensure nothing like the recent incident will ever happen again," the best-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial.

"The Chinese submarine's behavior was enough to arouse our great distrust," it said.

The Mainichi Shimbun, which is known for its liberal views, said Beijing should respond promptly to the apology demand.

"The fact is clear that [China] has entered our territorial waters," the Mainichi said in an editorial.

"China must immediately disclose the outcome of its investigation and come up with preventive measures," it said.

"We demand China's honest response."

Japan says a nuclear submarine violated its southern waters for two hours Wednesday near a disputed gas field, triggering a two-day chase on the high seas.

Japan, after initial caution about blaming its neighbor and growing competitor, on Friday summoned a top Chinese diplomat in Tokyo to demand an apology.

China said yesterday only that it was continuing to look into the Japanese claims and state media failed even to report that Japan had formally protested.

The Chinese foreign ministry yesterday reiterated the position it took during the submarine chase, saying it was trying to "gain further understanding on the situation."

The summoned Chinese diplomat, Cheng Yonghua, told Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura he could not apologize as his government's investigation was pending, a Japanese diplomat in Beijing said.

"He said he didn't intend to apologize because he didn't have any information yet," the diplomat said, asking not to be identified.

China harbors deep resentment over the brutal Japanese occupation from 1931 to 1945.

The feeling has been regularly reinforced by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a shrine that honors Japanese war dead including convicted war criminals.

The conservative daily Sankei Shimbun called China's behavior "unforgivable."

"At least China must clarify the cause of the incident and promise us it will never do this again," the Sankei said in an editorial, adding that Japan should take unspecified "counter-measures" if China failed to show an "honest response."

"If we are soft in handling the incident, China will likely repeat illegal acts over and over," the Sankei said.

The major liberal daily Asahi Shimbun did not have an editorial on the submarine intrusion, but quoted a senior foreign ministry official as saying: "This is a game of diplomacy. We'll see how they respond and find out whether China is a country like North Korea or a country with transparency."

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