- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
In addition to flagship brands like Mitsubishi, and Nissan, who have been hit by boycotts and vandalism in the midst of the tensions over the Senkaku islands, there have also been some more surprising victims of the fallout:
Haruki Murakami: Asahi Shimbun reports that the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Press and Publication has strongly suggested that booksellers refrain from releasing and selling books related to Japan, including the author’s bestselling 1Q84
Medicine: According to Kyodo News, "Japanese pharmaceutical companies have reported a sharp increase in the return of pharmaceutical products from Chinese hospitals."
Chinese-made laptops: Who cares where it was made, if it has a Japanese logo on it? The manager of a Sony laptop store in Shanghai tells the AP, "We sold more than 100 last month, while in these 13 days in September, we sold fewer than 10… We all know these products are made in China, but with a Japanese brand, but it’s just the way it is."
Chinese-owned sushi joints: According to the Wall Street Journal, "Online critics of the anti-Japanese push have pointed at China-owned businesses like sushi joints that have to put pro-China signs in their windows."
Classical piano: Chinese piano phenom Yundi Li has had to cancel a planned Japanese tour, featuring a program of Beethoven sonatas, after being "advised" by the Chinese government.
Skinny jeans: Japanese casual apparel chain Uniqlo was forced to close 42 of its stores in China during the initial demonstrations. When one Shanghai branch oulet, it put up a sign in the window, reading, “We support the claim that the Senkaku islands are inherently China’s territory”. Because heaven forbid you get some historical revisionism with your cashmere pullover.
Not all brands are suffering. Chinese loyalists of high-end cosmetics giant Shiseido don’t seemed too interested in switching their brand.
It also remains unclear what these tensions will mean for China’s favorite Japanese celebrity, porn star Sora Aoi, who boasts more than 13 million followers on Weibo. Her online appeals for Chinese-Japanese friendship amid the dispute don’t seem to have alienated her fans too much. As a sign waved at a recent anti-Japanese demonstration read, “the Diaoyu islands belong to China; Sora Aoi belongs to the world.”
Update: We should note that this goes both ways. Japan’s Sendai Zoo is now boycotting a pair of giant pandas.