Japan says 2,600 killed in China


TOKYO, June 13, 1989 (UPI) -- Japan, breaking out of its cautious stance over unrest in China, said Tuesday about 2,600 civilians were killed in the army crackdown on the democracy movement and that the government should be ''fully cognizant of the international implications.''

Kazutoshi Hasegawa, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Bureau, told Parliament that a Red Cross source provided the estimated death toll of students and other civilians in the Chinese army's crackdown on the democracy movement.


''We haven't determined the exact death toll,'' Hasegawa said, ''but according to a Chinese Red Cross source, as a result of the Chinese government action on June 4, about 2,600 people died.''

Reports from Beijing have said several hundred people, including soldiers, were killed in the army assault to end the occupation of central Tiananmen Square by student-led protesters demanding political reforms.

''The fact was that many people were killed and those killings were verified by the staff members of the (Japanese) Embassy,'' said Chief Foreign Ministry spokesman Tazio Watanabe.

''It is our hope that the Chinese government will be fully cognizant of the international implications of the developments ... and of its own status in international society,'' Watanabe told foreign correspondents.


Japan had previously refrained from criticizing the Chinese government for the bloodshed. Tokyo's relations with Beijing are a sensitive issue because of the Japanese occupation of China during World War II.

Pressed for Japan's response on the U.S.-China showdown over the sheltering of dissident Fang Lizhi at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Foreign Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka told the Diet, or parliament, ''It is developing into a serious problem. Japan does not want Sino-U.S. ties to deteriorate further.''

The chief Foreign Ministry spokesman said that although Japan has not yet received any requests for asylum by Chinese nationals, ''the government is willing to accomodate refugees on a case-by-case basis.''

''If they wish to stay in this country because of threats or possible danger when they return home ... we will give permission (after veryifying their claims),'' Watanabe said.

''If they want to be transferred to third nations, we would take actions accordingly,'' the spokesman added.

Watanabe said ''the developing situation'' in China may ''adversely affect'' exchanges between the two countries but he said Japan had no immediate plans to lift its suspension of economic missions to China.

''That is something we will decide after watching developments in that country,'' he said.


The Japanese government previously canceled 14 scheduled economic trips to China, ''not because of any policy decision but because of physical incapability.''

Japan is the largest donor of official aid to China, accounting for 68 percent of the country-to-country foreign aid and 56 percent of all aid, including that given by multinational organizations such as the World Bank.

In the last 10 years, Japan has provided about $6 billion in loans to China and has promised another $6 billion in the next five years.

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