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China should be blamed for failing to protect the Japanese nationals from attack, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday.

He strongly protested remarks by Chinese officials who claimed Beijing is not responsible for recent damage caused by anti-Japanese demonstrators.

“China is responsible for the safety of Japanese nationals in China,” Koizumi told reporters.

Koizumi added that China should “be aware of” its responsibilities and do its utmost to prevent further violence.

Koizumi was referring to a statement released Sunday by Qin Gang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, saying “the responsibility for the current state of affairs between Japan and China does not rest with China,” and implying Japan is to blame for not properly atoning for its militarist past.

Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi also expressed discontent over the spokesman’s remark, saying it is “unthinkable” to blame Japan for damages to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and Japanese business outlets in China.

“The host nation is clearly responsible under international law to protect the peace and order of embassies and consulates in the country,” Yachi told a news conference.

Speculation is growing that Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura’s planned visit to Beijing to meet with his counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, on Sunday may be canceled due to the attacks on the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

Yachi did not rule out that the visit may be canceled.

However, a top ministry official, who asked not to be named, said it is unlikely the Beijing visit will be canceled. The official’s remark came after Machimura met with Koizumi at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence earlier Monday to discuss how to deal with the recent incidents in China.

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