Friction between Chinese officials and journalists deepened Tuesday after police detained and roughed up the two Japanese journalists who were sent to cover Monday's suspected terrorist attack on police in the Xinjiang region in China's far west.
Foreign affairs officials in the region said police had apologized to the pair and would pay for damage to their equipment and for medical checkups.
Shinji Katsuta, a reporter for Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television Network Corp., said he and Shinzou Kawakita, a photographer from the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, were grabbed by police late Monday and held for about two hours at a security facility.
"My face was pushed into the ground, my arm was twisted and I was hit two or three times in the face," Katsuta said in a telephone interview broadcast by his station.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said Kawakita had described being surrounded by paramilitary police, lifted off the floor by his arms and legs, kicked and then pinned to the floor by an officer's boot on his face.
"This is utterly unacceptable any time. It's particularly reprehensible just days before the Olympics at a time when China has promised complete media freedom," said Jonathan Watts, the foreign correspondent club's chairman and a correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.
Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Nobutaka Machimura, told reporters in Tokyo that the government planned to "lodge a strong protest" with China over the incident.