The Unfortunate Irony of Anti-Japanese ProtestsIn China, there has been a spate of anti-Japanese protests of late (more here). The nationalistic protests are over disputed islands (called "Senkaku" in Japan and "Diaoyu" in China). Sure, people should have the right to assemble and voice their opinion. But they should not start destroying other people's stuff.


At some of the anti-Japanese protests, mobs have started flipping over and destroying Japanese cars, destroying Japanese restaurants, and wrecking anything that remotely seems Japanese. Things is, this is China. Many Chinese people own those Japanese restaurants. Chinese people drive those Japanese cars. Destroy those, and you are hurting Chinese.

Above is the image of a Chinese woman crying at an anti-Japanese protest. Holding a Chinese flag, she apparently watched in horror as her Nissan was damaged by a mob of angry protestors. The image has gone viral in both China and Japan; online in China, some say she got what she deserved for purchasing a Japanese car, while in Japan, some people are pointing out the contradictory nature of her attending an anti-Japanese protest and, yet, driving a Japanese car.

This contradiction appears in other photos, such as another one of a man wearing an anti-Japanese protest shirt at a protest—but wearing a Canon camera around his neck. Canon, of course, is a Japanese brand of cameras.

Another photo showed a Chinese man holding a sign that read, "Kick Out Japanese People!" Around his neck was a Nikon camera strap. Another Japanese brand.

These images are perplexing to Japanese. When a batch of Chinese cosplay from a recent anime event made their way online in Japan this week, Japanese net users wondered why it was okay to enjoy their otaku culture, while in other parts of China, Japanese goods were being smashed to pieces. Obviously, not everyone in China is rallying around the flag, and you shouldn't paint all people with the same brush.

Our world is interconnected. You cannot fence yourself off anymore. You must deal with other countries, whether that's the products you use or the popular culture you absorb. That's the problem with this sort of nationalism. It feels increasingly obsolete. If video games, music, movies, or fashion (or, heck, the internet) are anything to go by, we all share more in common than our languages, politics, or national pride let on.

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