By Mei Jingya, Sina English
Tadashi Yanai, the richest man in Japan and founder of casual fashion retailer Uniqlo, publicly criticized Tokyo’s island dispute with China in the latest issue of Shukan Asahi, which is to hit newsstands on Nov.23.
According to Japanese media, Yanai said Japan should be held responsible for the deteriorating bilateral relations resulted from the territorial disputes over the Diaoyu Islands. He also called for the Japanese government to acknowledge the existence of disputes over the island chain and engage in a frank dialogue with the Chinese leadership.
In response to some Japanese right-wing activists’ call for Japanese businesses to leave China, Yanai said: “Giving up the Chinese market will accelerate Japan’s recession process.”
“Tadashi Yanai touches on politics for the first time!” The J-cast news network said on Nov.19 that Yanai hinted in the interview that Japan should be blamed for the island row with China.
Yanai said Japan did nothing in the face of China’s serious attitude toward the issue. Tokyo made no diplomatic or political efforts to settle the row.
He said conducting frank dialogues is very important in solving territorial disputes. Both sides should keep calm and recognize existence of different claims. And if it is impossible to find a solution acceptable to both, putting aside disputes could be an option.
Anti-Japan protests swept Chinese cities in September after the Japanese government’s unilateral move to “nationalize” the Diaoyu Islands. Many Japanese businesses were affected and targeted by violent outbursts.
One of Uniquo’s outlets in Shanghai, as a precaution, posted a sign “Diaoyu Islands belong to China”, sparking an outcry back in Japan.
According to J-cast, after being branded as “traitor” by Japanese netizens, Uniqlo apologized and explained that its employees were behind pasting the sign, promising no such incidents would ever happen again.
In the Shukan Asahi interview, Yanai defended Uniqlo’s action. He said back then, they received an alert from the Chinese police. Uniqlo outlets could have been smashed otherwise. He said some excessive reactions at home was more appalling.
“I got 1,900 phone calls from right-wingers in 10 days,” said Yanai. “Even their street propaganda cars kept harassing us.”