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Beijing allows anti-Japanese sentiment to flare in China amid massive protests

Protests in China and Japan over a disputed chain of islands in the East China Sea erupted this weekend and spilled over into Monday, highlighting ongoing bilateral tensions.

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The protests continued Sunday in Mianyang, near Chengdu, according to the International Business Times. On Monday, The Straits Times also reported an additional 1,000 people had gathered to chant anti-Japanese slogans in Wuhan, Hebei province.

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Meanwhile in Japan, approximately 3,000 people gathered Saturday in Tokyo to protest China's claim over the islands, marching toward the Chinese Embassy, Bloomberg reported. According to Xinhua, the protesters were comprised mostly of right-wing conservatives particularly disappointed in what they said was their government’s acquiescence to pressure from China to release the fishing boat captain that had been detained since the incident.

Then on Monday, Agence Frace-Presse reported that Japanese media had revealed the existence of a secret pact between the Japanese and Chinese governments meant to deter such international incidents from arising in the region. The Asahi Shimbun's Aera magazine claims Japan violated the pact by detaining the fishing boat captain instead of deporting him.

Last month, in response to Japan's detention of the Chinese fishing boat crew, Chinese authorities seized four Japanese nationals in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, accusing them of spying on the military. Three days later, on Sept. 23, Japan released the fishing boat captain, perhaps in hopes that the Chinese would do the same for the four Japanese detainees.

Instead, China responded by demanding an official apology from Japan, and did not release the last Japanese detainee until Oct. 9.

A chance to mend ties may present itself later this month, when a gathering of Asian leaders in Hanoi will provide an opportunity for the two nations' premiers to meet.