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SHANGHAI - Tokyo has warned its citizens in China after six "serious" assault or harassment cases, a Japanese diplomat said Friday as over 5,000 reportedly demonstrated outside the Japanese embassy.
Tensions have been rising between China and Japan, and Tokyo this week announced the completion of its purchase of disputed islands which it administers and calls Senkaku, but which China claims and calls Diaoyu.
The Japanese government issued a warning on Thursday and detailed some of the incidents against its nationals, all of which took place in Shanghai, the diplomat, who asked not to be identified, told AFP.
China's biggest city is home to more than 60,000 Japanese.
In one incident, a group of Japanese having a late dinner were attacked, though no one was seriously injured, the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai said in a statement posted on its website.
The Shanghai Daily newspaper said the Japanese involved in the "scuffle", which took place Tuesday, were travelling players in an international nine-ball pool competition.
Japanese players in the tournament have been asked to stay indoors, the newspaper quoted an organizer as saying.
The consulate said another case involved a Chinese person throwing a bowl of hot noodle soup at the face of a Japanese national.
Other incidents included Japanese being kicked, hit by bottles or having a drink poured on them, it said. In one case, a Chinese man on a bike tried to stop a taxi driver from taking a Japanese passenger.
In two of the incidents the assailants asked "Are you Japanese?" before acting, while in other cases those attacked were overheard speaking Japanese, the diplomat said.
"The Japanese government has repeatedly asked the Chinese government to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and companies," the consulate said in the statement.
"But we ask that you take full precautionary measures to ensure your safety," it said.
That included being careful at night, staying away from public places and refraining from speaking in Japanese in public, said the Japanese diplomat.
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that China's disagreement was with Japan's government, not its people, whom he called "innocent".
More than 20 cities have seen anti-Japanese protests in the past month and the car of the Japanese ambassador was targeted in the capital when a man ripped the flag off the vehicle.
More than 5,000 people gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Friday, the Xinhua state news agency said, adding that another 100 demonstrated against Japan in Tengchong, in the southwest.
The wife of a Japanese businessman in Shanghai, who moved to the city six months ago, said the community was growing more fearful, especially with rumours of further anti-Japan demonstrations.
"I guess some people will leave China," she said.
Japanese diplomatic missions have warned more protests are possible on September 18, the anniversary of the "Mukden Incident" in 1931, which led to Japan's invasion of Manchuria, in northern China.