China media pooh-poohs Japanese luxury toilet seats

Japan Times: 

Japan’s luxury lavatories have become the latest flash point with China, after Beijing’s state-run media launched a thunderous tirade against built-in washers and pre-warmed seats on Thursday.

The Global Times, which is affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, devoted the editorial in both its English and Chinese editions to the subject, under the headline: “Popularity of Japanese toilet seats overstated.”

Buying Japanese toilets “makes a mockery of China’s boycott of Japanese goods,” it said.

That Chinese tourists swamp Japanese stores at a time when the country is facing a sluggish domestic demand is certainly not something to be proud of,” it said.

The two countries are at loggerheads over the East China Sea islets which Tokyo controls and calls Senkakus and Beijing claims as Diaoyu. Both sides have repeatedly sent ships and aircraft to the area.

But despite their political differences Asia’s two biggest economies have close business ties, and roughly half a million Chinese tourists descended on Japan over this month’s Lunar New Year holiday, spending an estimated $882 million, according to Nomura Securities.

It was unclear why the Global Times focused its ire on the smallest room, but it may have been triggered by a Beijing Youth Daily article which said the seats were second only to rice cookers in popularity among Chinese tourists visiting Japan.

The high-tech bathroom accessories, often equipped with multiple water jets, hot air dryers and automatic lid raisers, are common throughout Japan and are often seen as a status symbol among the Chinese nouveau riche.

The Global Times acknowledged that the toilets’ popularity “is not accidental as they explicitly show the human touch, intelligent design and sophistication of Japanese goods.”

But it added: “World-class toilet seats are not what Chinese manufacturers aspire to make.”

Coral in Japan’s Ogasawara Islands being threatened by Chinese poaching ships

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RocketNews 24:


While the vast majority of Japan’s population is crammed onto its four largest islands, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido, the country’s territories extend much farther out to sea. For example, if you head about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of downtown Tokyo, you’ll come to the Ogasawara Islands, one of Japan’s most remote settlements.

We’ve talked about the Ogasawaras before, and how their beautiful ocean scenery has been helping to attract tourists, to the archipelago. Recently, though, the islands have been seeing an increasing number of extremely unwelcome visitors, in the form of ship coming from China to poach coral.

Japanese authorities and Chinese fishing fleets regularly butt heads in the disputed Senkaku Islands. Things are usually a lot more peaceful, however,  in the Ogasawaras, which presumably have less strategic importance due to their greater distance from mainland Asia and Taiwan.

The Japanese media has a lot more eyes on the ordinarily low-profile Ogasawaras these days, though, with reports of groups of as many as 200 Chinese vessels  gathering to harvest red coral, which is then transported back to China for sale. Xiapu County, a district of Ningde City on the coast of the East China Sea, is said to be the base of operations for many of the poachers.


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In order to recoup the fuel and labor costs for their voyage to Japan, some of the poaching vessels spend two months out of port, employing techniques such as camouflaging their Chinese markings in to avoid arousing suspicion. The coral they gather is then sold illicitly sold in Xiapu, and with more product available than what’s needed to supply local demand, buyers also come from Shanghai to purchase large quantities to resell in other markets that are more lucrative still.

Japanese fishermen in the Ogasawara complain that the poaching activities are already disrupting their catches. Environmentalists and tourism promoters are likewise angry over the illegal practice, given that the slow speed at which coral develops makes any damage an ecological tragedy.


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China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement denouncing the illegal gathering of red coral, and has expressed its intentions to work with its Japanese counterparts in addressing the problem. At least a portion of the Xiapu public is unhappy with the poachers as well, as illustrated by an interior goods shop with a notice posted reminding customers that, “Recent poaching of red coral on the open seas has been staining our town’s image.”

The authorities have also offered rewards of up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,640) for information regarding poaching activities, and anecdotal evidence points to black market sellers becoming less brazen and open in the trafficking of their ill-gotten goods. Here’s hoping the countermeasures continue to be effective, giving the Ogasawara Islands’ coral the earliest possible start on its healing process.


Pew Resarch: As tensions rise in Asia, a look at how Japanese, South Koreans and Chinese view each other

Vice President Joseph Biden is in Asia on a trip that will take him to Japan, South Korea and China for high-level meetings that come at a time when tensions have ratcheted up in the region over China’s decision to declare an air defense zone over disputed islands – just one of the issues underlying the unease among the three countries.

A key goal of Biden’s trip, in addition to trying to defuse the tensions, will be to make clear, especially to America’s Japanese and Korean allies, the Obama administration’s strategy in East Asia – once described as a “pivot” of U.S. attention away from the Middle East to their part of the world, and now referred to by officials as a “rebalancing.”


China’s military power is regarded with alarm in Japan and South Korea. Nearly all Japanese (96%) see China’s power as bad for their country as do 91% of South Koreans, according to a Pew Research Center survey this spring. Underlying that sentiment are the territorial disputes over islands in the East China Sea. More than eight-in-ten (82%) Japanese see these disputes as a big problem, as do 77% of South Koreans.

The point of contention between Japan and China involves eight islands known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China – islands that are uninhabited but are near key shipping lanes and potential oil and gas finds. China’s newly-declared air defense zone also has revived concern in South Korea, which has its own dispute with Beijing over a submerged rock known as Ieodo in Korea and Suyan Rock in China. That area is also said to be surrounded by gas and mineral deposits.

FT_japan-apologyIll feelings among the people of the three nations are not confined to the territorial disputes. Almost seven decades after the end of World War II, a big majority of South Koreans (98%) and Chinese (78%) believe that Japan has not sufficiently apologized for its actions in their countries during the 1930s and 1940s, according to our spring survey. Those feelings were exacerbated in April when a group of conservative Japanese lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo to honor Japanese soldiers killed in the war.

As for the U.S. role in the region, while the administration’s strategy for dealing with China has come into sharp focus among allies in the region, the U.S. still has a strong reservoir of good will on which to draw in Japan and South Korea compared to China.

Nearly seven-in-ten (69%)  Japanese regard the U.S. favorably compared with only 5% who have a positive view of China, according to the spring survey. In South Korea, 78% have a favorable view of the U.S. compared with 46% who regard China positively.

The Japanese see China as an enemy rather than partner by a 40% to 11% margin, with 47% seeing it as neither. South Koreans have a less negative view, with 27% seeing China as a partner, 17% as an enemy, and 53% seeing it as neither. (The South Koreans are also more apt to say China will eventually or already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower, with 56% of them holding that view compared to 24% of Japanese).

One area where the U.S. gets low marks along with China, though not quite as low, is in perceptions of how much it takes the interests of South Korea and Japan into consideration in making foreign policy decisions. About six-in-ten South Koreans (62%) and Japanese (59%) say not too much or not at all. However, bigger majorities in Japan (89%) and South Korea (79%) have that view of China.

Check out this link:

Pew Resarch: As tensions rise in Asia, a look at how Japanese, South Koreans and Chinese view each other