Yasukuni Shrine

Chinese chat rooms flooded with boycott calls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 August, 2006, 12:00am

Mainland internet chat rooms were flooded yesterday with messages calling for boycotts of Japanese goods while sporadic protests were held in mainland cities to protest against Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

In Beijing, dozens of protesters held banners and placards to protest outside the Japanese embassy, but the day passed without major protests in Shanghai as security was boosted at the consulate, though the mission did receive some phone calls from Chinese criticising the shrine visit.

In Shenzhen, police broke up a crowd of 100 or so people in a shopping mall who gathered to watch protests against the shrine visit.

Several men began to perform a play about Japan's wartime aggression around 5pm in the Qunxing Square shopping mall but were taken away to a neighbourhood police station soon after.

A few minutes later, two of the protesters returned and shouted slogans: 'Oppose Junichiro Koizumi, beat down Junichiro Koizumi'.

They also invited people to kick a punching bag plastered with pictures of Mr Koizumi and burned images of the Japanese leader. About 100 people looked on and shouted anti-Japanese slogans.

Dozens of armed police and plainclothes officers arrived later and urged the men not to take part in unauthorised protests, warning that those who defied the order would be arrested.

Two protesters were later taken to a police station.

On mainland internet chat rooms, including popular ones such as the Qiangguo Forum, Sina.com and Mao Yan Kan Ren, most messages condemned the visit by Mr Koizumi.

Some radical messages even said China should severe ties with Japan and boycott its goods.

Unlike past outbursts, most messages posted on chat rooms were left undeleted yesterday, but some message posters on Mao Yan Kan Ren complained that site operators had removed their messages soon after they were posted.

In April last year, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Shanghai and Beijing, pelting Japanese government buildings with stones and other objects. They also smashed windows and signs of Japanese businesses in both cities.