Sep 20, 2012

No island holiday for Doraemon, caught between Japan and China

Try being a Japanese icon in the Middle Kingdom this week. Kway Teow reports from Beijing that not even Doraemon can calm tensions between two superpowers over disputed islands.

Doraemon has just celebrated a rather strange centennial. The time-traveling robot cat has become internationally beloved since making his debut in a 1969 Japanese comic, to the point that Japan’s Foreign Ministry recently made him a cultural ambassador. This year represents a sort of pre-anniversary — canon has it that he was created in the year 2112, so enterprising 7-Eleven stores across China have been selling all manner of Doraemon-related merchandise.

Which was all very well, until it suddenly became rather bad news to be a Japanese icon in the Middle Kingdom.

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