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"Discriminatory Treatment by Japanese Companies Caused Spread of Anti-Japanese Protests in China"

"Discriminatory Treatment by Japanese Companies Caused Spread of Anti-Japanese Protests in China"

Posted April. 20, 2005 23:06,   


The introspective argument that China-based Japanese companies’ antipathy against Chinese encouraged the recent anti-Japanese protests across China is being made in Japan.

The Tokyo Shimbun reported on April 20 from on-site reports, including Shanghai, that although the biggest cause of the anti-Japanese protests was attributable to the two countries’ different views over history, discriminatory treatment by Japanese companies was also a problem. Considering the Japanese press, which has mostly reported only news of destroyed Japanese legations and restaurants during the recent anti-Japanese protests in China, the recent mood of self-examination is unusual.

This change in Japanese coverage of the anti-Japanese protests in China also reflects shock from the fact that anti-Japanese protests in Shanghai, an “economic center,” were more intense than those in Beijing, China’s “political city.” Shanghai contains the greatest number of Japanese companies based in China, with 34,000 Japanese employees in around 4,500 Japanese companies.

Wage and Promotion Discrimination In Favor of Japanese-

A Chinese woman working for a Japanese bank in Shanghai criticized the current situation by saying, “When I become familiar with my job after two years of working, my company moved me to a different department. Who would ever love his or her company under such a system?”

Another Chinese woman working at Japanese advertising company and who studied in Japan pointed out, “Japanese know the wage limits that Chinese can tolerate. Japanese companies know exactly how to make Chinese employees work at a maximum level while giving them a minimum wage.”

The Tokyo Shimbun analyzed that given the fact that other foreign companies don’t discriminate against Chinese employees in their wage hierarchies, Chinese employees feel greater antipathy against Japanese companies than against any other foreign companies.

Ignoring Chinese Culture-“We, Japanese, see only products, not people’s faces.”

A Japanese expert on the China-Japanese relationship analyzed that the insulated Japanese community in China also played a role in raising anti-Japanese sentiment. This means that Japanese try to sell their products but don’t want to mingle with Chinese, resulting in a heightened level of animosity against Japanese.

This closed Japanese society in China is causing a problem in Japanese companies’ activities as well. For example, despite the presence of a Chinese president in a Japanese company, there is no way to make Chinese employees understand what is going in a company.

In addition, Japanese commercialism disregarding Chinese history and culture is creating controversy.

Two years ago, when advertising a car named “Padao,” which means “violent” in Chinese, the Toyota Motor Company was subject to public criticism by putting an ad in a magazine in which a Chinese symbol, the lion, bows to the car. After heavy criticism, Toyota changed the name of its car.

When Canon, a camera company, unveiled a new digital camera last September, it incurred the wrath of Chinese who were shocked that Canon chose the day commemorating the Manchurian Incident to celebrate the introduction of its new product.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com