China blames Japan for tensions
Thousands of Chinese protesters take to the streets for a second day.
Japan seeks dialogue to ensure relations do not deteriorate further.
A weekend of protests heightened tensions between the rivals.
BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China says Japan is responsible for escalating tensions between the two former rivals after a weekend where tens of thousands of angry Chinese took to the streets.
The flare-up is the latest in tense relations between the heavyweight Asian neighbors. It was triggered in part by a new Japanese history book that protesters say fails to admit the extent of Japan's World War II atrocities.
The protests are also targeting Japan's bid to become a permanent U.N. Security Council member.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday called the weekend's demonstrations "extremely regrettable" and reminded the Chinese government it is responsible for the safety of Japanese living in China.
"I would like the Chinese side to do their utmost from now on to prevent a recurrence so this type of thing does not happen," Koizumi said.
China said on Monday that Japan must "seriously address and appropriately deal with its wartime historical aggression."
Japan has protested to China and called for its citizens and assets to be protected.
In a rare protest on Chinese soil on Saturday and Sunday, thousands of protesters called for a boycott of Japanese products, burning flags and shouting anti-Japanese slogans -- acts of civil unrest that have sparked concern in Tokyo.
About 20,000 protesters paraded in two cities in southern Guangdong on Sunday, with some targeting a Japanese department store in Shenzhen, one day after angry demonstrators threw rocks, eggs and plastic water bottles at Japan's embassy and ambassador's residence in Beijing.
Saturday's protest was the biggest in the capital since 1999 when crowds rallied outside the U.S. Embassy after three Chinese were killed when its embassy was bombed in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia.
Protests are rare in China, with the government keeping a tight rein on any public gatherings, banning most demonstrations.
But while China's government has urged protesters to remain calm, and avoid extremist behavior, it has been tolerant of these anti-Japanese demonstrations, urging Tokyo to take a "responsible attitude" towards history.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang's said in a statement Monday that Japan "must seriously take and properly handle the history of Japanese aggression against China and other major issues of principle bearing on the feelings of the Chinese people.
"It should do more to enhance mutual trust and safeguard the overall interests of China-Japan relations, instead of doing the contraries," Qin said.
The tensions can be traced back to Japan's military campaigns in the last century. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, and occupied various parts of China until 1945.
In particular, Chinese say Tokyo plays down 1937's "Nanjing massacre." When that city fell to the Japanese Imperial Army, tens of thousands of civilians and prisoners of war were killed.
There is also much resentment of Japan's WWII practice of forcing women from China and other parts of Asia to become sex slaves for its soldiers.
Several appeals by those women for compensation have been rejected by Tokyo's high court.
Japan's ambassador to China, Koreshige Anami, has called the violent rally in Beijing "gravely regrettable" and called on Beijing to protect Japanese citizens and businesses.
Japanese press attache Keiji Ide said Sunday that the envoy talked with the Chinese deputy foreign minister, who expressed regret on behalf of his government for the Saturday protest and said Beijing could not allow it to happen again.
In Qin's Monday statement, he said that "in light of recent anti-Japanese protests in Beijing, the Chinese government has consistently asked the protesters to remain calm, orderly and abide by the law in expressing themselves.
"The Chinese government is working to protect the safety of Japanese government missions and Japanese citizens in China. The Chinese government does not wish to see any extremist behavior."
In Beijing on Sunday, police put on a show of force to keep any would-be demonstrators from getting anywhere near the Japanese Embassy.
Still, authorities have controlled media reporting of the protests.
"Chinese media is not reporting the protests in any major way ... CNN's reporting of the protests on Sunday was blocked out," CNN correspondent Tara Duffy reported.
There were no reports of protests on Monday.
Despite flourishing trade between the two, ties are at a low following clashes over disputed islands in the East China Sea, the incursion of a Chinese submarine into Japanese waters and exploration of natural gas fields beneath the seabed.
CNN correspondent Tara Duffy contributed to this report.