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Thousands of anti-Chinese protesters have been marching through Tokyo to vent their anger in an ongoing row over disputed islands.

As the demonstration went ahead, simultaneous marches were held in several Chinese cities in protest against the Japanese government’s refusal to cede the islands to China.

Police in Tokyo arrested some isolated pro-Chinese counter-protesters for their own safety as emotions were running high.

At the centre of the dispute is a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The islands are close to potentially huge oil and gas reserves which Asia’s top two economies are eager to exploit.

Relations worsened sharply last month when coastguards detained a Chinese trawler captain whose fishing vessel collided with Japanese naval patrol boats close to the islands.

In an attempt to defuse the diplomatic row both sides are trying to arrange a formal summit meeting between the two countries aimed at improving ties.

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