Written by Matthew Harper.
A dispute over small islands between the Japanese and Chinese governments, as well as questionable work policies in Japanese factories in China, has led to Anti-Japan protests in China. This is an issue with a long history, as made clear when the protests started on the September 18th anniversary of the events leading to Japan invading northeast China in 1931. On that fateful September day all those years ago, there was a railway in Manchuria destroyed by soldiers of Japan. Soon after, Japan invaded north-east China. The biggest problem stemming from these riots is that many Japanese companies
have major business operations in China, and amidst the growing protests, some of these companies have had to temporarily suspend operations in China.
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of history knows that Japan and China have never been incredibly friendly towards one another, and these business-threatening protests are not a huge surprise. According to the BBC News, there were many thousands of protestors lining the streets of Beijing with many police there to make sure nothing got too out of hand. The BBC goes on to say that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was in Beijing to talk to the Chinese Defense Minister. The Chinese Defense Minister is said to hope for a “peaceful resolution.”
Although the protests started on the 18th, they’ve only grown since. Protestors and police still fill many streets each day, and a lot of Japanese businesses are afraid to resume operations in China. One company that the BBC points out has shut down its operations is Panasonic, who has a factory in Qingdao. Big automotive dealers Honda, Nissan, and Mazda have stopped operations for the short term as well, and although they hope to get back to business as usual soon, there are no guarantees, the BBC reports.
An article from Reuters points out that the issue is much bigger than most would expect. Reuters, through a poll, shows that 41% of Japanese businesses say that this issue with China is going to affect the way they’re doing business, not just in the short term, but possibly in the long term, as well. The Chicago Tribune says that the Reuters poll was actually taken before the worst of the protests, though, so the numbers could have shifted even more towards signs of serious trouble. Concerns amongst Japanese businesses include Chinese workers refusing to work in their plants, demands for higher wages, and the protests turning violent (some companies have already faced property damage).
While Japan and China are far from friends politically, trade between the two nations has never been slow. The BBC News claims that Japanese products are actually amongst the most popular in the whole of China. China hopes to be able to keep the Japanese businesses there with a peaceful end to these protests, but the Japanese are worried that the protests will only start again. If the long term goal is to keep things working smoothly, perhaps the Japanese should try to improve wages and working conditions in their Chinese plants. If not, it is very likely that the protests will not go away.