Thousands of people have rallied in Tokyo as Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a rare visit, denouncing Beijing’s crackdown in Tibet and demanding Japan exert pressure on him.
Police were deployed in force to protect Mr Hu, who is paying his first foreign visit since major demonstrations against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet in March, casting a shadow over the Beijing Olympics.
Riot police formed a human chain to seal off central Tokyo’s sprawling Hibiya Park, where at least 300 demonstrators chanted, “Arrest the murderer Hu!” and “Hu, get out!”
Police shoved back some 10 demonstrators who tried to push through a barricade and threw paper Tibetan flags at an official-looking car entering the park, where Mr Hu and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda were to have dinner.
Adding to the chaos, throngs of young people were also in the park to listen to a loud hard-rock concert being held on a sunny public holiday.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, about 4,200 people, including Tibetans and members of China’s Uighur minority, took to the streets, according to organisers.
They held signs that read, “Hu Jintao, respect the Olympic spirit” and “Don’t kill our friends.”
“I hope that the Japanese, who have a tradition of justice and share with us both physical similarities and Buddhist culture, would say to the Chinese ‘Don’t do what’s wrong,'” Tibetan refugee Kalden Obara told the rally.
China, under fire over its clampdown in Tibet, this week reopened talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, the Himalayan region’s exiled spiritual leader.
“But I don’t want the Chinese Government to pretend to hold talks only for the sake of the Beijing Olympics’ success,” Obara said to a storm of applause.
Mr Hu’s visit, long in the planning, is the first by a Chinese president to Japan in 10 years as Asia’s two largest economies try to improve ties marred by wartime memories.
Opposition lawmaker Yukio Edano called on Mr Fukuda, known for his conciliatory views towards China, to raise the Tibet issue forcefully with Mr Hu.
“If Prime Minister Fukuda’s meeting with President Hu Jintao is a mere formality, that means that we are accomplices in China’s crimes in Tibet,” Mr Edano said.