By on April 23, 2013

As predicted by TTAC after Chinese demonstrations against Japan’s control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands turned into violence against Japanese cars and car dealerships in China, the matter turned into a severe sales setback for Japanese car companies in China, more severe than initially thought, or hoped. Also as predicted by TTAC, the islands did affect the sales of Japan’s carmakers more than the tsunami.  Last Saturday in Shanghai, Toyota’s China chief confirmed that the pain would be felt at least through August.  This was before he heard the really bad news.

On Sunday, three ministers of Japan’s government visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a place where Japan’s A-Class war criminals along with other war dead were put to an uneasy rest.  These visits had enraged China’s rulers in the past, and they did so again. Severely.

Making matters worse, a flotilla of boats carrying more than 80 Japanese nationalists arrived in waters near the islands on Tuesday . The flotilla of 10 boats was tracked by eight Chinese government ships, while ships of the Japanese Coast Guard tried to chase off both Japanese nationalists and Chinese government boats. The Nikkei [sub] says that “a record number” of Chinese are in Japanese waters, causing fears that “tensions between the two East Asian powers may be returning after a period of relative calm.”

Renewed tensions will trigger a flare-up of  anti-Japanese discussions in Chinese social media, which won’t help the still lagging sales on Japanese cars in China. New ugly demonstrations would put a serious dent into Japanese plans for China. Japanese carmakers most likely won’t be too sympathetic for the Sunday outings of their ministers.

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43 Comments on “Island Row Can Turn Ugly Again...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    You’d think this conflict would be of interest in the US media due to the cultural, military, and economic impacts, but TTAC is the only place I read about it. Celebrity DUIs make better news, I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I concur.

    • 0 avatar

      just a cotton pickin’ minute. don’t you know who Bertel is? you’re about to find out! lol

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      I don’t know… the last few days have been busy for me but I remember seeing news on Google’s aggregator about the Yasukuni visit, maybe it was Sunday.

      I just thought “not again” and moved on. I can’t think that the Japanese government has ever really been serious about halting the right-wingers’ occasional acting-out. Maybe if they just had a few annual parades to bleed off the fervor…

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        This is about as newsworthy for the main stream media as the Falklands/Malvinas on-going dispute.

        At least until the shooting begins. Which it will. Eventually. Just like it did with the Falklands/Malvinas conflict.

        And then it will also be a lopsided victory, with people dying needlessly for a cause that remained in a stalemate.

        • 0 avatar
          MrWhopee

          Of course it will. With the war in Afghanistan and Iraq winding up, there’s currently no war in the world. Well, except the Syrian war, but that’s small, and only one side has enough money to buy weapons. Arms dealers and makers need some kind of war, preferably between two rich nations, to sell their wares. This Senkoku thing is just perfect.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        The problem right now is that these Japanese politicians are the right wingers acting out…

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      It’s been written about plenty in publications such as The Economist — even a cover story on occasion.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Sigh…If only the Japanese archipelago in its entirety could be towed to the far friendlier Californian coast.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      I want Hokkaido plopped into Lake Michigan but it’s too damn big.
      They’d be swell neighbors.

    • 0 avatar
      Turkina

      Sounds like someone has been listening to Winston Churchill. He wanted to tow the British Isles to the smiling coast of Canada, but the technology didn’t exist in his time…

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Considering that Japanese PM recently remarked to other Japanese lawmakers that the Japanese occupation of much of Asia during WWII shouldn’t be regarded as “invasions,” I’d say that Japan’s Asian neighbors would be relieved.

      But in this case, neither Japan or the PRC has a strong claim on the disputed islands.

      Japan’s control of the islands was a relatively recent happenstance which arose from its expansionist aggression and later the US basically parceling out control.

      The PRC’s claim on the islands arise out of Mongol and Manchu Empires of which Han China was the largest piece.

      When the Qing/Manchu still ruled, the Han Chinese considered than foreign barbarians/usurpers – but once they were overthrown, the Manchu and their homeland became “Chinese” (juat as Tibet, parts of Mongolia and other regions which were part of the Manchu Empire were now considered a part of China).

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Just when the news from North Korea had -apparently- calmed down…

    Just like Europe 100 years ago, all it will take is a stupid mistake by an individual (just like the Serbian anarchist that killed the Austrian prince) for hell to break lose.

    In which case, who is the US going to support? With the exception of North Korea, all the parties involved in the Souteast Asia’s quarrels have enormous economic ties with the US. It would be a lose-lose proposition for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “It would be a lose-lose proposition for everyone.”

      …but damn entertaining, and it could revive the JE translation market, particularly for feds.

      So, not /everyone/ would lose.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      Not everyone. Lockheed, Boeing, etc. win/win. Not to be flippant, but war is the age old answer to life’s vexing questions (after beer, anyway).

      It’s sad, it’s hearbreaking, good men and women will die in vain. Innocents will be lost. But the planet will keep on spinning. As the wise man says, “War. War never changes.”

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    “a place where Japan’s A-Class war criminals along with other war dead were put to an uneasy rest.” This gives a new definition to A-lister. Come to think of it most A-listers are A-holes.

  • avatar

    This latest bit of saber rattling comes on the heels of some Japanese politicians’ visit to the Yasukuni shrine. It was a move that atagonized several countries in the region. The Chinese are just reminding the Japanese that they are still out there. If Japanese industry wants to improve their sales in China, they need to sit on their politicians.

    I have, by the way, visited the Yasukuni shrine. I refused, however, to approach the temple and offer any respects. The museum close to the site is excellent, but it is funded by the nationalists and is very biased. The version of history they present spends a lot of time trying to justify many of Imperial Japan’s actions.

    I think the museum tries hard to glorify the Japanese military, but at the end you walk out into a wide open space that has all this Japanese military equipment from different places around Asia and the Pacific. Most of it was recovered years after the war ended at it is old, rusty crap – helmets and canteens etc – that men dropped on the battlefield. It was all stuff that men in combat needed so they wouldn’t have just dropped it because it was heavy. Once you draw the connection to why it got dropped and you see just how much of it there is, you get a real sense of the loss and the futility of the whole war. I wonder if all the nationalists who flock to the shrine and museum really get that…

    • 0 avatar
      M. Ellis

      I’ve been to the shrine as well, over twenty years ago. I agree with you both about the quality (and mission) of the museum, and the ongoing failure of the political visits to the shrine. However, I don’t see either changing much. The Nationalists provide bodies and money, both of which politicians need, and if the last sixty years of Japanese politics have taught us anything, it’s that the Nationalists are pretty well entrenched as a political force, for better or for ill. (Mostly for ill, in my opinion.)

    • 0 avatar
      Turkina

      I wish the Japanese could come up with some way to go to the Yasukuni Shrine, pay respects to the war dead, and symbolically repudiate the war criminals. Such as turning their backs or a similar gesture.

      Hey, I’m learning something new today. Finally reading up on the shrine and what it is about, rather than blah blah war dead and war criminals.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        Some people in the Japanese government would like that. Unfortunately, the nationalists are powerful, and the government can’t touch the shrine. After WWII we basically wrote their constitution, and separated church and state – so it’s in the hand of the shrine’s officials. They’ve declared that the souls of everyone interred there are combined and inseparable, so individuals can’t be removed.

        It must be awkward for Japanese who aren’t crazy nationalists. It’d be like if someone told me that visiting Arlington or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier meant honoring the Trail of Tears, Sand Creek Massacre, or American atrocities in the Philippines. (And I bet we have just as many Congressmen as Japan who would deny that we ever did anything wrong in times of war.)

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Japanese could easily solve things by removing the war criminals from the shrine and interring them somewhere else, but the right-wingers would never stand for that.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The Japanese suffered a humiliating defeat with that war. Whatever national pride they had was rubbed in the dirt by their enemies.

      None suffered more at the hands of the Japanese than the Chinese did. So this antagonism is natural. It’s like pouring salt on a festering wound.

      The Japanese cannot give up this reminder of how Japan was once the great power in Asia, and the Chinese are constantly reminded of the pain and suffering Japan caused in China during the days of Japanese expansionism.

      This is going to end in a shooting war, once China has infused itself with self-confidence to fire the opening salvo. Chinese pride demands it!

      As to who the US will back or side with? Under the current administration the US will just try to talk both sides to death with endless rhetoric resulting in nothing.

      This will be solved when both the Chinese and Japanese have been sufficiently bloodied but the end result will be the status quo. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Thanks for the objective comment, Thomas.
      Unfortunately, too often, we in the west are quick to forget/belittle/minimize the brutality and evil that the Japanese imperialists/nationalists wrought upon the peoples of the almost-Orwellian East Asian “Co-prosperity Sphere.”

      The Japanese have great culture and many wonderful people – if only they could learn from the Germans and the Americans that greatness does not have to come at the cost of ignoring the dark periods of one’s history – unfortunately, the current crop of nationalists seem bent on doing just that.

      There aren’t many things that can unify the likes of the Taiwanese, Koreans, Indonesians, etc. – but the Japanese refusal to officially apologize and make reparations will always be a stumbling block to lasting peace.

      It also doesn’t help that a historical assessment of these islands (insignificant though they may be, outside of possible resource deposits) will inevitably lead an objective reader to the conclusion that there is no historical basis upon which the Japanese claims can stand.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    China is the future, Japan is literally dying off and has never been a good ally. America needs to kick Japan to the curb and embrace China.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Ignore Chinese strategic designs against the United States at your peril, in no way are the Chinese our “allies”.

      • 0 avatar
        infinitime

        Odd comment, given that China has not once perpetrated any direct acts of aggression against the US. Even during the Korean War, China only intervened after US troops approached its border, and only after extensive warnings of its intentions to do so if anyone approached its borders. Even then, it confined its fighting to the Korean peninsula, rather than broadening the fight to other US interests in the area.

        Japan on the other hand, well, need we say any more than Pearl Harbour.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Moscow, Beijing, and Washington are playing a deep game. Look deeper into Shanghai Cooperative Organization, and some of the move being made by the East and West in the Caucuses and the “stans” since about 1995. A concise study on the subject is: “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives” by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

          • 0 avatar
            infinitime

            @highdesertcat,
            Interesting take, but I am not convinced.

            The incident you cited related to some Chinese air force pilot trying to scare the US spy plane – which was at the time flying right off the coast of Hainan Island, obviously to his own detriment.

            The move was amateurish, but the actions of one pilot hardly constitutes national policy. Besides, I imagine USAF would be equally confrontational if a Chinese spy plane was constantly hovering off the coast of California, in “international” airspace.

            As to Chinatown, I am at a lost as to your reference. Like Mexico, China has tons of people who are looking to improve their lot in life by illegally entering the US. They are there to make a buck, rather than to escape persecution. These are economic migrants, albeit illegal ones.

            These factors do not add to a seriously credible threat to US security.

            At worst, China is an economic competitor who doesn’t play by our rules. Of course, the British would have said the same of the Americans one hundred years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          China perpetrates many indirect, covert, state-sponsored acts of aggression against the US, at an ever-increasing rate in the here and now.

          China is in no way our ally and while the Chinese people are no different than any other people in their wants, needs, loves and dislikes, their government and its Communist ideology is what is preventing China from being our ally.

          As a whole, China is only good for good food, cheaply-made goods and the annual flu-virus.

          An ally is South Korea, Japan, Germany, England, the Netherlands. Not China.

          • 0 avatar
            infinitime

            China is as “communistic” as the US… it is a heavily state-directed capitalist system.
            While it may not be an ally, neither is it an adversary.

            A lot of the hype has been made about China’s espionage and cyber attacks of late, the reality is that like all great powers, they are heavily involved in these types of activities.

            I am sure the CIA, KGB, MI6 and any other credible intelligence agency, engages in the same type of activities. In a way, the world is a more secure place when countries KNOW of each others capabilities and intentions. It reduces greatly the chance for conflict.

            Anyhow, that is beside the point. I don’t see China as being any more of an adversary to the US as France, Russia, or any of a host of other European states.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            infinitime, I have no doubt that all nations, great and small, engage in covert spying activities on one another.

            But China is getting caught at it because they’re amateurs trying to run with the big dogs.

            There was no reason, as an example, for a Chinese fighter jet to engage an American spy plane over international waters.

            What brought international attention to the incident was that the Chinese pilot committed “suicide by propeller” by flying his jet into one of the propellers of the spy plane. Where did this guy learn to fly?

            Then the Chinese Communists complicated the matter further by incarcerating the crew of the spy plane which was forced to find safe haven because of the collision caused by the Chinese pilot.

            Communist China is an adversary of the US because of their Marxist ideology. Americans do not see the US capitalist system as being state-directed, nor state controlled. Neither does the rest of the planet. We enjoy freedoms in business and lifestyle totally unknown to the Chinese.

            China does not enjoy the same freedom of speech nor freedom of movement enjoyed by all residents of the US, legal or illegal.

            Chinese immigrants can enter the US illegally and not fear deportation because if they ever get caught they can claim political immunity for fleeing a Communist regime.

            The proof is the China-town portion of ANY American city.

            Communist China is an adversary and an enemy of the US. It wasn’t always that way. History shows us that China and the US were partners during much of WWII, in a common fight against Japanese Imperialism and expansionism.

            That all changed when Mao came to power.

            It is only through trade sanctioned by the WTO that the Communist Chinese government has been legitimized by the rest of the world.

            Besides North Korea I do not believe that China has many friends in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            infinitime

            @highdesertcat,
            Interesting take, but I am not convinced.

            The incident you cited related to some Chinese air force pilot trying to scare the US spy plane – which was at the time flying right off the coast of Hainan Island, obviously to his own detriment.

            The move was amateurish, but the actions of one pilot hardly constitutes national policy. Besides, I imagine USAF would be equally confrontational if a Chinese spy plane was constantly hovering off the coast of California, in “international” airspace.

            As to Chinatown, I am at a lost as to your reference. Like Mexico, China has tons of people who are looking to improve their lot in life by illegally entering the US. They are there to make a buck, rather than to escape persecution. These are economic migrants, albeit illegal ones.

            These factors do not add to a seriously credible threat to US security.

            At worst, China is an economic competitor who doesn’t play by our rules. Of course, the British would have said the same of the Americans one hundred years ago.

            On China’s lack of popularity, you are probably true. Except that according to a BBC study from several years ago, China consistently ranked higher than the US in “likeability” in the Arab states and in Africa… I guess no one likes the big guys.

            Incidently, Norway came out ahead of almost every country in the world….

  • avatar
    sparhawk

    Seems to me the Japanese car companies need to stop dragging their heels about setting up Chinese brands.

    If they were able to sell their cars through a convincingly “Chinese” brand, they wouldn’t have to worry about the political shenanigans.

    Of course, there would be people who would know about the connection, but just like with model re-badging, as long as there are enough people that don’t know…it’s all good.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “China is the future, Japan is literally dying off ………….”

    True in a sense, but the political situation is far more complex than that.

    Start with the conflict between both Koreas. Then add China’s claim over Taiwan.
    For spice add Vietnam, Philipines, Cambodia, etc, etc.

    Too many age-old resentments in the region, which also has become perhaps the world’s most important economic area. For which the USA, and shall I add, most of the world, is fully invested in.

    From Korean supertankers and LCD displays, Japanese robots and microchips, Taiwanese motherboads and ASICs and most everything Chinese, the world needs the products built in those countries.

    Again, a lose-lose proposition.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    China is pushing outward in many directions. Elsewhere Al-jazeera is reporting about India asking China to withdraw troops China marched 10km into Indian territory on April 15th.

    If you are following this you can see that the Chinese government is pushing every boundary it can. I think they are desperate for resources and rather than trade for them are trying to own the resources outright.

    Could you imagine what the USA would do if someone marched troops 10km into our country? The restraint exercised by India I think is amazing but also think China takes advantage of the fact that countries don’t really want war and is willing to push to gain as much as they can irregardless of the political cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Good comment. I think Chinese-Indian tensions portend more future trouble than do these stage-managed flareups over the Sen-Diao rocks.

      • 0 avatar
        infinitime

        The “Indian” territory is disputed, China and India have a long standing decades-old disagreement over demarcation of their border.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22265133

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Must be minerals in them thar mountains… otherwise why the drama? Aren’t they just disputing old British colonial borders? Why not just can those and form their own border unless resource competition is involved? It’s not like there are vast fertile plains or huge bodies of fresh water at stake, so it must be minerals.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            I’d read somewhere that Chinese security has traditionally been placed on controlling routes of invasion along their periphery. It’s an old, old strategy that has been pursued by Chinese rulers for many centuries. America hasn’t existed long enough for such long-view policies to develop, so it’s a bit of a puzzle for us.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Except, the PRC has disputed territories with most of its Asian neighbors – Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc. (not to mention Tibet, etc.).

          The PRC has had skirmishes with both India and Vietnam just a few decades ago.

          It’s like every territory that was once part of the Mongol and Manchu Empires are claimed by China (if the Soviets hadn’t stepped in, all of Mongolia, and not just a portion of it, would be part of the PRC).

          Ironic considering how the Han Chinese wailed about both European and Manchu imperialism.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      What’s funny is that India does not allow publishing of maps that mark these disputed border areas as being disputed. Instead of showing an inaccurate map, many publications will simply blank out the map for Indian distribution.


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