NEW YORK – More than 200 Chinese-Americans gathered Tuesday outside the Japanese Consulate General in New York to protest Japan’s claim to the Senkaku Islands ahead of a U.S. visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The protesters, from around 60 local community groups, also denounced what they called a resurgence of Japanese militarism under Abe and called on the Japanese government to apologize for atrocities committed during the war.
Protestors held signs reading “Diaoyu Islands belong to China,” “No American blood for resurgence of Japanese militarism” and “Abe is a history denier, a dishonest man.” The Japanese-controlled islets are called the Diaoyus in China, which in recent years has also exerted its claim to them.
The protesters, waving American flags, also criticized the role the United States has played in the dispute.
“We are here because Japan tried to occupy our island. It’s our island, but Japan is trying to use the Americans’ help to get it. I want the American government to stay neutral and let the two countries resolve the problem,” said protester R.S. Wang, 73.
The group said they were delivering a letter outlining their protest to the Japanese ambassador in New York, asking that it be presented to Abe.
Among the speakers at the protest was New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who recently introduced a resolution commending the establishment of a New York memorial to Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial forces during the war.
“Because of this resolution, I have received emails from some people in Japan that tend to mischaracterize and even miniaturize the forced and wanton brutality visited upon those many millions of people . . . and that, my friends, is a terrible mistake,” said Lavine.
“I want to sincerely thank each of you for being here today to protect the integrity and honesty of history, because it is critically important for us today to recognize the past’s tragic mistakes to make sure they do not again occur,” said Lavine.
George Hua, 72, one of the organizers of the event, insisted the target of the protest was not the people of Japan.
“We are against trying to reverse Japan’s peaceful Constitution. We are not against the Japanese people. We know the Japanese, like the Chinese, are a peace-loving people,” Hua said.
The Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited group of islets in the East China Sea, were originally placed under Japanese control in 1895. Since the 1970s, China and Taiwan have also claimed them, after a report suggested the seabed around them may hold oil, gas and other mineral deposits.