Thursday April 7, 2005
Chinese boycott Japanese products
BEIJING: Some Chinese shops have stopped selling selected Japanese goods in protest against Tokyo's approval of a school history book they say whitewashes Japan's militaristic past, an industry official said yesterday.
Many Chinese fume at what they see as Japan's failure to own up to atrocities committed during its occupation of China from 1931 to 1945. Beijing estimated that up to 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded by invading Japanese troops.
The China Chain Store & Franchise Association, the largest retail group in the country, had urged members to take products made by Asahi Breweries Ltd and MSG maker Ajinomoto Co Inc off the shelves, the association said in a statement.
Any Chinese customers with patriotic spirit and morality will understand and support us. Let's take action for our dignity and for our descendants, the association said in a statement.
Ajinomoto said on its website www.ajinomoto.com.cn it had not had anything to do with compiling the textbook. Asahi was not immediately available for comment.
The Chinese association has about 650 members in the country with retail sales last year at 400bil yuan (RM183.4bil), accounting for 10% of the country's total retail sales of consumer goods.
An original version of the history book, written by nationalist scholars for junior high schools, was first approved in 2001 despite strong protests from China and South Korea, both victims of Japan's military aggression.
But hardly any school boards adopted the book, which critics lambasted for playing down the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China and the forced sexual slavery of women for Japanese soldiers, and for depicting Japanese actions as aimed at liberating other Asian countries.
This time, the textbook's proponents hope a change in the national mood and backing from ruling party lawmakers will persuade more school boards to adopt the new edition.
It was not clear how many Chinese stores had stopped selling Japanese products, but one association official said the boycott campaign had begun in Shanghai, the country's financial hub, and the north-eastern city of Shenyang.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador on Tuesday and lodged a solemn objection to Japan's approval of the textbook, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Seoul was also upset that the textbook reiterated Japan's claim to disputed islands. Reuters