Japanese companies see no effect of Chinese protests

Japanese companies have yet to see any measureable effect from a Chinese campaign to boycott Japanese goods.

A wave of anti-Japanese protests that has swept through Chinese cities over the last two weeks has yet to have any measurable effect on sales of Japanese consumer electronics goods in the country, some of the major Japanese companies active in China said on Monday.

The protests continued at the weekend when thousands of people took to the streets of several cities, including Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Hong Kong. The demonstrations were sometimes violent when people threw rocks and paint bombs at Japanese diplomatic offices and defaced or destroyed signs advertising Japanese businesses and goods.

Marchers are protesting what they view as Japan's failure to recognize its wartime past and its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Counci. They have called for a boycott of Japanese goods and companies.

If the boycott call is being heeded by local consumers, its effects have yet to be felt by several consumer electronics companies polled on Monday.

"It's too early for us to conclude or foresee any possible effect [from the protests] on Panasonic's business in China," said Akira Kadota, a spokesman for Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in Tokyo. "We are carefully watching the situation to see how it develops."

Sony Corp. also said it has yet to notice any result of the boycott but did close its Shanghai retail store on Sunday, said Koji Kurata, a spokesman for Sony in Tokyo.

Several companies, including Matsushita, Sony and NEC, have advised employees taking business trips to China to be careful. However, none of the companies contacted has stopped allowing workers to make trips. That's in contrast to several years ago during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) scare when Japanese companies were calling off business trips and stopping workers from travelling to China.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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