Japanese seizure of a Chinese fishing boat near a disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku island chain in the East China Sea last month has resulted in a wave of violent anti-Japanese protests in China.
But instead of burning photos of Jackie Chan and sending an army of dangerous samurai and ninjas to crush the Chinese dragon, the Japanese are fighting back against the propaganda with an unlikely strategy that would puzzle even the most skilled diplomatic experts.
Namely, the users of the well-known Japanese forum 2ch, which also attracts visitors from China, have recently decided to turn the term “Japanese devil” — the favorite anti-Japanese insult of the Chinese — into a cute moe character drawn in manga style.
“Japanese devil” is a relatively old Chinese insult towards the Japanese that dates back to World War II and has been used by anti-Japanese propaganda ever since.
The juicy insult is written as 日本鬼子 and pronounced like “riben guizi” in Chinese and “nihon onigo” in Japanese.
However, in Japanese the term can be read alternatively as “Hinomoto Oniko”. Some clever forum users came up with the idea of using it as a name for the new character. In translation, “Hinomoto” means “origin of the sun”, while “Oniko” can be rendered as female name. The result of their creations can be seen on the pictures above (you can see even more of them here).
So what do the Chinese think of this? Here are some responses from the forum (source: sankakucomplex.com):
I didn’t think it would turn out like this… I just don’t understand that country.
Damn, just damn. Japan is a dangerous country. Perhaps we should admit our loss.
We boo and jeer them and their response is a moe character… We’re helpless before them.
Riben Guizi is a moe character!? What can we call them now? Japs? Creepy otaku?
It’s not the first time the Japanese extremists have fought the anti-Japanese sentiment with entertainment in such an unexpected way.
During the wild demonstrations in China and South Korea in 2005, photos of then 11-year old Japanese junior idol and actress Saaya Irie (入江紗綾) showing her in a bikini were posted on Chinese web sites.
Pictures, taken by Japanese photographer Garo Aida, were accompanied with a message that started like this (loosely translated): “Please, listen carefully to what I say. My dear Chinese brothers, please stop these anti-Japanese hijinks!” because “if you don’t, I won’t like you anymore.”
The message then pleads for better relations between the two nations and says that if people “unite for the sake of China’s democracy”, her breasts will “rise up”.
Tabloid and newspaper stories soon followed, among them a large conservative Chinese newspaper Shuukan Bunshun (週刊文春) which reported that the photos and words of peace led to a reduction of anti-Japanese attitude among a certain segment of Chinese population.
Well, at least for a while.