China warns tourists not to visit Japan
China has issued a travel warning for Japan after a group of Chinese tourists were attacked on a trip to Fukuoka in the wake of bitter row between the two countries.
The Chinese National Tourism administration warned: "Chinese tourists and tour groups currently in Japan or planning to go to Japan in the near future should watch their travel safety".
Officials said the warning followed an incident in the south western port city of Fukuoka on Wednesday when a bus of Chinese tourists "was attacked" by Japanese nationalists.
According to Japanese media, the tour bus was surrounded by ten cars filled with Japanese nationalists in the centre of Fukuoka, who then banged windows and kicked the sides of the bus while screaming abuse.
Japanese police quickly arrived to calm the situation.
Police in Fukuoka said Wednesday was the 38th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations and 50 groups of anti-Chinese protesters had gathered across Kyushu province.
Tensions between Japan and China continue to be fraught after an unusually bitter spat over the Diaoyu islands, over which both countries claim sovereignty. China reacted with outrage after a Chinese trawler and its crew was arrested by a Japanese patrol boat in the waters around the islands earlier this month.
China broke off all diplomatic contact with Japan and threatened dire repercussions until Japan eventually backed down, releasing the captain of the boat last week. The move left many in Japan questioning why the country's leaders had not stood up to China.
Tourism between the two countries has already been badly affected. In the first five months of this year, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan rose 36pc to around 600,000, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation. Fukuoka in particular has benefited from a number of cruise ships arriving from China and Japan has loosened visa restrictions for Chinese nationals.
However, after the spat over the Diaoyu islands "many Chinese people have cancelled their trips to Japan" according to Zhang Jianzhong at China's National Tourism administration. The Japanese Tourism organisation said that travel agencies had not received orders from Chinese tourist groups to visit Japan during the current national holiday week on the mainland.
Yesterday, the president of Japan Airlines revealed that more than 1,000 people have cancelled flights between the two countries since last month. Japan Airlines ''may have to consider reducing the number of flights'' in the event that the drop in demand proves to be prolonged, said Masaru Onishi.
Pro-Health (China) Company, a Beijing-based group manufacturing health food and skincare products, said it had cancelled a group tour to Japan in October for 10,000 of its employees.
"The decision won the support of more than 90pc of the company's employees," Wu Xuecheng, vice general manager of Pro-Health, told Xinhua, the state newswire.
"Japan's illegal detention of the Chinese boat captain has severely hurt Chinese people's feelings. Our dignity has been taken away. I don't know what our employees would feel if they toured in Japan," he said.