Japanese firms Canon and Panasonic were forced to shut down their factories temporarily in China amidst the ongoing violent demonstrations in China. The French AFP reported that the protests were caused by nationalistic reasons that have rocked the Pacific region for the past few days.
It all started when the Japanese government decided to buy a private group of islands in the East China Sea known to them as the Senkaku Islands. The Chinese claims its part of its territory and calls it the Diaoyu Islands. The critical archipelago is the main reason for the strained relationships between Japan and China as both claim rights over the islands.
The location of the archipelago makes it a strategic point for whichever country it belongs. For the past few decades, the islands’ main importance was its fishing ground. But as the two regional powers grow in size, it becomes apparent that the archipelago holds a huge amount of minerals and gas beneath it, as well as a good point to exert military dominance in the region.
The United States has demonstrated that island control is vital, especially in this part of the world. The term String of Pearls, coined by geopolitics experts at Booz Allen, is a typical example of how the American military exert its military might by building military bases all around mainland Asia. Other than that, precious resources like gas and petroleum are another bonus to the control of these islands.
The Chinese media and tens of thousands of Chinese protested against every Japanese sign they encounter in the country. Reports of sabotage in assembly lines are rampant as well. Such incidents prompted the large Japanese companies to close their factories to prevent further damage.
Canon released a statement that its main concern was the safety of its workers. Meanwhile, Panasonic reported an occurrence of fire in one of its factories in Qingdao. Japanese shops, restaurants, diplomatic buildings, and other companies are facing the same issue.
Even people driving Japanese cars are not spared. One vehicle owner reported that he was forced out of his Toyota car by demonstrators and watched as his vehicle was smashed.
Previously, Chinese military ships were reported to be circling the islands. Violent demonstrators had to be restrained by water canons and tear gas in Shenzhen. While the Chinese government had not issued a statement, the message is clear: either the Japanese reconsider ownership of the islands, or face economic sanctions. China is Japan’s biggest economic partner in the world.