The Madding Crowd: Beijing Inflames Popular Sentiment Against Japan

Feng Li / Getty Images

Though ostensibly caused by a territorial dispute, the anti-Japanese protests have deeper roots

Thousands of angry locals vent their rage at a foreign embassy, hurling bottles, defacing flags and chanting murderous threats. These aren't Muslims swarming American diplomatic missions because of that tawdry, U.S.-made film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad. They are Chinese protesters, and their target is Japan. Widespread resentment is still felt in China over Japan's savage wartime atrocities and a feeling that Tokyo has not adequately apologized for them. When the Japanese government decided earlier this month to buy some uninhabited islets in the East China Sea from private owners, a simmering territorial dispute with China over the same outcroppings escalated, and...

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