But even as Hu spoke, about 200 protesters waved signs outside the university gate saying “Free Tibet” and “No Pandas, No Poison Dumplings,” the latter referring to Hu’s offer to lend two pandas to a Tokyo zoo and a row over Chinese-made dumplings laced with pesticide that made several Japanese people ill.
When I was in Japan recently, the contaminated jiaozi/gyoza scandal was one of the first things most Japanese friends asked me about on learning I now live in Beijing. It seems like a bit of progress if anti-China demonstrators (who weren’t particularly numerous) are complaining about human rights and food safety rather than history-related issues. Anti-U.S. slogans were not as substantial when I happened upon a much larger demonstration on Sept. 11, 2004, at Tokyo’s Omotesando.
“I just want to say ‘Free Tibet’. I want to say ‘No’ to China‘s oppression of human rights,” said 29-year-old Atsushi Hanazawa, who carried a guitar along with a Tibetan flag.
Again, this makes Japanese protesters in a similar position as many around the world. No comment on who’s well informed.
Some Waseda students were more concerned about getting to class. “I can’t get through the gate. It’s a pain,” said 18-year-old Takuhiro Waki of the protest.
About two dozen right-wing activists yelled anti-Chinese slogans such as “Hu Jintao, Go Back to China.” Earlier, some right-wing Waseda alumni protested against Hu’s speech in a blog.
There’s the nationalism. But two dozen? Pretty weak from people who get crowds twice that size in front of sound trucks on anonymous Tuesdays near busy train stations and somewhat regularly clog the streets near the Chinese embassy.
Nearby around 50 Chinese students held their own rally, yelling “Go, China” in Chinese, “Sino-Japanese Friendship” in Japanese, and “Yes, We Can” in English.
“When I hear the anti-Chinese slogans, I feel that the Chinese people’s character has been maligned,” said 28-year-old Chinese graduate student Cao Shunrui.
There’s a little more nationalism, perhaps, from the other side. I’m not sure what to make of that, but the “Sino-Japanese friendship” message is considerably more helpful than some of the vitriol on both sides in U.S. campuses, from Grace Wang’s experience at Duke to a few dozen other reported rallies.
Hu later shed his suit jacket to play ping-pong at Waseda with popular players from both countries, but Fukuda, 71, declined to pick up a paddle.
“I’m glad I didn’t play ping-pong with him,” Fukuda told reporters. “He’s very strategic. I thought you can’t be too careful.”
I wouldn’t play him either. If he’s playing with popular players, he’d kick my ass. Unless Prime Minister Fukuda has been training, it’s probably wise to save the embarrassment and watch a friendly match.