Hundreds of slogan-chanting Taiwanese activists and their supporters rallied against Japan Sunday amid an ongoing territorial dispute over an island group in the East China Sea.
The demonstrators from several right-wing parties and civil groups called for a boycott of Japanese goods as they were marching past a department store known for its sales of Japanese-made items.
“Down with Japanese imperialism!”, “Diaoyutai is ours, Japanese get out of Diaoyutai!” the crowd shouted, referring to the Senkaku island group controlled by Japan, which is also claimed by China, under the name Diaoyu, and Taiwan.
The crowd unfurled banners and brandished anti-Japanese placards during the peaceful march.
The uninhabited islands lie 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the Okinawan capital of Naha, and 200 kilometres from Taiwan.
Apparently mindful of the growing clout of China and the island’s fast-improving ties with Beijing, the demonstrators called for cooperation with the mainland to solve the territorial dispute.
Television images showed an activist waving a huge Chinese national flag to highlight the controversial appeal.
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou however has said Taipei has no intention of working with Beijing, aware that doing so could hurt the island’s ties with Japan and cause concern in Washington.
A group of fishermen in the northeastern Nanfangau fishing port said a flotilla of more than 60 fishing vessels would set sail Monday to the waters off the disputed islands group.
“Diaoyutai has been our traditional fishing ground for centuries. We pledge to use our lives to protect it, or we’d disgrace our ancestors,” Chen Chun-sheng, the head of a fishermen’s association from the port, told reporters.
Tension mounted after Japan announced earlier this month it had completed a planned purchase of some of the islands, prompting Taiwan to recall its envoy to Tokyo and triggering mass protests in China.
Tens of thousands of anti-Japanese demonstrators took to the streets in cities across China, with some vandalising Japanese shops and factories, forcing firms to shut or scale back production.
The islands lie on vital shipping lanes and are believed to be located near potentially rich gas fields.