Anti-Japan protests erupt in China

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Beijing (CNN) — Chinese protesters hurled bottles and eggs outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday amid growing tensions between the two nations over disputed islands.

The protesters chanted “down with Japanese imperialism” and called for war as they made their way down the streets.

Demonstrators, who included children, carried miniature Chinese flags. Beijing police at the scene held back the crowds.

Tensions escalated Friday when Chinese maritime surveillance ships ignored warnings from Japan and briefly entered waters around the group of islands at the center of the heated territorial dispute.

The ships arrived near the uninhabited islands — which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu — and began patrols and “law enforcement,” China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The islands, situated in the East China Sea between Okinawa and Taiwan, are under Japanese control, but China claims they have been a part of its territory for ages.

The long-running argument over who has sovereignty has triggered protests in both nations.

The United States,a key ally of Japan, has repeatedly urged Tokyo and Beijing to resolve the dispute through dialogue. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will meet with his counterparts in Japan and China this weekend, the Department of Defense said Thursday..

Chinese vessels had all left the waters by Friday afternoon and headed north, the Japanese Coast Guard said.

Japan said it will intensify patrols of the area.

The controversial Chinese move to begin patrols around the islands follows Japan’s purchase of several of the islands from a private owner this week. China described the deal as “illegal and invalid.”

Animosity between the two countries over the islands runs deep.

They have come to represent what many Chinese see as unfinished business: redressing the impact of the Japanese occupation of large swathes of eastern China during the 1930s and 1940s.

China says its claim goes back hundreds of years. Japan says it saw no trace of Chinese control of the islands in an 1885 survey, so formally recognized them as Japanese sovereign territory in 1895.

Japan then sold the islands in 1932 to descendants of the original settlers. The Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945 only served to cloud the issue further.

The islands were administered by the U.S. occupation force after the war. But in 1972, Washington returned them to Japan as part of its withdrawal from Okinawa.