In early September 2012, Japan’s government announced its intention to buy the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls the Diaoyu Islands, from a private owner. The move sparked anger across China, and by September 15 protests in many cities across China had grown violent. Mobs attacked Japanese factories, Japanese-brand stores and even stores stocking Japanese products. Images of Japanese-brand cars smashed and overturned — cars purchased by China’s newly rich — were shared widely on Chinese social media. Even more disturbing were the extreme messages. Many images showed protesters holding up banners reading: “Even if all China becomes a grave, we must kill all Japanese.” The madness of nationalism seemed to override the instinct for self-preservation. In this cartoon, posted by artist Kuang Biao (邝飚) to Sina Weibo on September 18, 2012, a figure with a hammer for a head and sporting a bandana like that worn by some Chinese protesters in recent days, sits on the Chinese mainland, slashing itself violently with a knife. It screams across the East China Sea to a clearly Japanese figure standing atop a tiny island, symbolizing the Senkaku Islands: “I’m looking into this case of self-mutilation! How things develop depends on what you do!” The Japanese figure looks utterly flabbergasted at the behavior he sees across the water, his expression seeming to say, “WTF!”

David Bandurski

CMP Director

Latest Articles