The hordes of Chinese and Japanese reporters roaming the halls of the Chengdu Global Automotive Forum in Chengdu were not really interested in exports. They were sniffing blood. There are tensions between China, Japan, and a few other countries over some rocks in the sea. The rocks are called Diaoyu by the Chinese, Senkaku by the Japanese, and choice words by many others. Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga sat on the podium, next to the always photogenic Atsushi Niimi. The Japanese were flanked by a BAIC president and a Dongfeng CEO. The reporters wanted to know: How bad is it?
Shiga says the tensions have “some impact.” As things stand, Nissan would rather not risk going outdoors.
“It is very difficult to conduct big sales promotional campaigns, especially promotional events outdoors. Overall, not only for Nissan but also all Japanese makers, we have been hit by a drop in sales, especially August sales. That means there is some impact,” Shiga told Reuters reporter Norihiko Shirouzu, who arrived at the conference in full riot gear, black jeans and t-shirt. Shiga told the same to Bloomberg’s Liza Lin, who also arrived in a black number, albeit a much more elegant one than Shirouzu’s duds. Toyota’s Niimi ducked the reporters.
Many cities saw anti-Japanese demonstrations, and there are Twitter-style calls for boycotts of Japanese goods. A Japanese embassy vehicle in Beijing was stopped by two cars, and the meatball pennant was ripped off. Two men were arrested and fined with five days in jail, writes The Nikkei [sub].
A white Infiniti and a black Toyota were parked outside of the Chengdu conference center without causing riots.