The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands located roughly due east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands. Both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands.
Japanese ditch trips to HK, mainland China
International school and tourists opt for safety in the wake of mass rallies
Amid rising tensions between China and Japan, the Hong Kong Japanese School has called off two student trips to the mainland for safety reasons.
Japanese tourists, in turn, have scrapped trips to the city on similar grounds.
The cancellations were announced amid a number of demonstrations staged yesterday by more than a dozen groups and political parties outside the Japanese consulate in Exchange Square, Central, to mark the 81st anniversary of the 1931 Mukden Incident, which involved the armies of Imperial Japan and Nationalist China.
The school, located on Blue Pool Road in Wong Nai Chung Gap, said in a notice dated on Friday that it had scrapped a Shanghai trip for Primary Six pupils next month and a Guangzhou visit for Primary Five pupils in November because it was "putting the safety of the children first".
The decision followed advice issued by Japan's foreign ministry on Thursday over protests on the mainland. The school's principal could not be reached for comment.
Steve Huen Kwok-chuen, executive director of EGL Tours, said a few Japanese tour groups scheduled to visit Hong Kong early next month had been cancelled. Tours to Japan from the city would still take place, he said.
Gianna Hsu, who chairs the Hong Kong Japanese Tour Operators' Association, said the number of inbound tours cancelled would not exceed a tenth of the total, but she was concerned that things might deteriorate. About 1.3 million Japanese visit the city each year.
The protests at the Japanese consulate drew representatives from more than a dozen groups, including the Federation of Trade Unions. They expressed anger at Tokyo's claims on the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan refers to as the Senkaku Islands.
The consulate said it had called on the Hong Kong government again to ensure the safety of Japanese people and businesses.
Hong Kong-based activists who sailed to the disputed archipelago last month vowed to return to the islands tomorrow or on Friday, after the Marine Department said their boat had passed safety checks. So Ping-chi, assistant director of the department, said they needed one or two more days to process the licence of Kai Fung No2.
Lo Chau, the owner of the fishing vessel, travelled to Beijing with a lawyer to submit documents to a court of law. He said he was seeking compensation of HK$150,000 from the Japanese authorities for detaining the activists and their boat after they landed on the islands last month.
Meanwhile, the police made a public appeal for help in finding a man suspected of beating a Japanese couple at the Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade on Monday. The businessman, 37, and woman, 35, were walking from their home in Hung Hom when the assault occurred. The attacker did not use any weapon and later fled on foot towards Tsim Sha Tsui.
Police said the man suffered minor injuries to his left leg and shoulder and forehead, while the woman was slightly hurt in the right leg and head.
They were treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei and later discharged.