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Japan wants probe as flag ripped from car in China

Japan wants probe as flag ripped from car in China

Japan's foreign minister on Tuesday demanded an investigation into an incident in which a man in Beijing ripped the Japanese flag off of a car carrying the country's ambassador to China.
The incident came amid rising diplomatic tensions and anti-Japanese protests in China over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said the incident was "deplorable" and called for an investigation. He said a national flag "is a symbol to the nation's dignity that needs to respected."
The Japanese Embassy in Beijing said in a statement that Ambassador Uichiro Niwa was returning to the embassy on Monday when his official car was stopped by two other vehicles. It said a man jumped out of one of the vehicles and pulled the flag off the front of Niwa's car, damaging the flagpole.
Nothing else was damaged, the embassy said.
The embassy said it issued a strong protest to China's Foreign Ministry, which expressed deep regret over the incident and said authorities would spare no effort to prevent a recurrence.
China's Foreign Ministry said China was conducting a "serious investigation" into the incident and that the Chinese government has consistently fulfilled its international obligation to protect the safety of foreign embassies and personnel.
For a second straight weekend, hundreds of Chinese staged anti-Japan demonstrations in several Chinese cities amid diplomatic tensions over a string of disputed uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese. The outcroppings are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. They are near key sea lanes and are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and as-yet untapped underground natural resources.
An editorial in the Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper Tuesday said that the man who ripped the flag from the ambassador's car had not yet been identified, but that if he was Chinese, his act was "a stupid one" and not representative of the Chinese people.
Chinese authorities face the tricky balance of appearing tough on territorial claims without stirring anti-Japanese sentiment that could threaten relations with Tokyo or even backfire into criticisms of China's government.
"Chinese people should remain calm and civilized when expressing their patriotism. Any actions and protests must remain within the law," the editorial said.
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Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Beijing contributed to this report


Updated : 2020-11-30 13:33 GMT+08:00