Home / China / View

Should we criticize 'cherry tourism'?

By Lun Ping | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-08 07:02

In sharp contrast to the withering ties between China and Japan, Japan's tourism is blossoming because of Chinese tourists. No wonder Chinese tourists to Japan have sparked much controversy back at home, where they have even been described as "traitors" by some netizens.

But should the people's exchanges bear the brunt of the online anger?

After repeated provocative speeches and actions by Japanese politicians' trying to whitewash Japan's atrocities during World War II, the Japanese government dealt a new blow to bilateral ties by green lighting 18 new textbooks on Monday.

Some of these textbooks rub salts on Chinese people's wounds by glossing over the notorious Nanjing Massacre in 1937, which killed more than 300,000 Chinese people. What's worse, all the 18 textbooks describe China's Diaoyu Islands as Japan's territory.

The fallacious textbooks will not only intensify the tensions between Japan and China, but also cast a shadow over the series of activities taking place to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

In the annual survey conducted by China Daily and the Japanese think tank Genron NPO last September, 86.8 percent of the polled Chinese had a "bad" or "relatively bad" impression about Japan, while a record high of 93 percent of polled Japanese thought negatively about China.

This begs the question, why do so many Chinese rush to visit Japan when ties between the two countries are at freezing point?

In 2014, 2.2 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, and in the first quarter of 2015 the number of Chinese tourists to Japan reached a record 690,000. And during the just-concluded Qingming Festival holiday, or the Tomb-Sweeping Day, Japan was the hottest overseas destination for Chinese tourists because of the cherry blossoms.

The lower cost of trips to Japan because of the depreciation of the yen, the mature tourism services, as well as the country's geographic proximity, have all contributed to make Japan a popular destination for Chinese tourists.

And Chinese tourists have played a role in helping the Japanese economy, not least through their crazy consumption of products from rice to toilet seats. It is estimated that each Chinese tourist contributes about 8,000 yuan ($1,298) to Japan's retail sector.

That's one of the reasons why many netizens accuse these relatively well-off Chinese tourists of being "unpatriotic" and "heartless".

However, we should distinguish the Japanese people from the Japanese government. In 1978, when China and Japan negotiated the signing of their peace and friendship treaty, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said Chinese people suffered huge catastrophes, but Japanese people also paid a heavy price.

While some Japanese politicians have raised concerns among the international community with their rightwing words and deeds, they have also faced heavy criticism from the Japanese public. About half of Japanese voters oppose the Japanese government's intention to revise Japan's peace Constitution, and many are pressing Abe to stick to the "Murayama Statement" of 1995, in which former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized for the "tremendous damage and suffering" Japan caused to the Asian people on the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Murayama has reportedly received an invitation to attend the memorial events in China marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War against Japanese Aggression in September.

It is vital that the Japanese public voices its opposition to the revisionist antics of their rightwing politicians.

Meanwhile, the increasing number of Chinese tourists to Japan not only affect Japan's economy, but also bring more chances for the two peoples to interact, which may improve the perceptions of the two peoples toward each other.

Those rightwing politicians should stop their provocative actions, or they may eventually harm Japanese people's well-being and lose votes.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349