Since Japan initiated the release of treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean on Aug. 24, it has faced an onslaught of harassing calls from China. The situation has led telecom companies in Japan to set up specialized emergency hotlines. While this wave of calls has baffled and frustrated many Japanese citizens, businesses based in Japan but operating in China are also contending with boycotts.
Harassment Calls Disrupt Lives of Regular Japanese Citizens
These unsolicited calls have targeted a broad range of sectors in Japan, from government agencies to corporations, non-profits, restaurants, and health care facilities. However, the brunt of these calls is borne by ordinary citizens who have no direct connection to the wastewater discharge issue.
As of Aug. 29, Japanese law enforcement agencies alone have received over 4,000 such calls. Predominantly in Mandarin, these calls often feature criticisms, protests, and even derogatory remarks.
In a recent interview conducted by The Epoch Times, a 23-year-old man from Sichuan province admitted to having made one such call to a Japanese ramen restaurant. When questioned about his motivation, he bluntly suggested that the restaurant should use the treated nuclear wastewater to cook their noodles. When pressed on how he acquired the restaurant’s phone number, he tersely responded, “That’s none of your concern.” As to the efficacy of these harassment tactics, the man, who self-identifies as an “idle member of society,” stated, “It’s effective because it meets my emotional and psychological needs.”
Experts: CCP Channels Domestic Discontent Toward Japan
According to Professor Ako Tomoko of the University of Tokyo, the harassment calls from China can be attributed to multiple factors. She noted that some callers have been subject to prolonged anti-Japanese educational propaganda and are influenced by misleading reports in the Chinese media. “These calls also come from young people seeking attention, as ridiculing Japan garners attention in China,” she added.
However, Ms. Tomoko emphasizes that underlying these actions is a growing distrust of the Chinese regime among its citizens. “With rising unemployment and economic instability, levels of dissatisfaction in China are escalating. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is leveraging anti-Japanese sentiment as a pressure valve to divert internal tensions,” she explained.
Tomoko further posited that should these actions become overly zealous, the tide of public criticism might turn against the Chinese regime itself. “The CCP is wary of collective power and is likely to recalibrate its strategy in the future,” she observed.
Korogi Ichiro, a professor at Kanda University of International Studies and an expert on China, concurs with this assessment. In an interview with Sankei News, he said, “As the Chinese real estate market crumbles and unemployment rates surge, there’s mounting discontent among the Chinese populace. The CCP is strategically channeling this dissatisfaction toward Japan.”
Mr. Ichiro cautioned that the CCP is walking a tightrope, fearing that mismanagement could trigger a larger crisis. “China’s economy is teetering on the edge, and public discontent is simmering like magma beneath the surface. We’ve seen incidents like the ‘Blank Paper Revolution’ against the government. If people’s basic needs become jeopardized, widespread criticism of the government could erupt at any moment,” he warned.
Telecom Companies and Government Respond to Surge in Harassment Calls
In the wake of escalating harassment calls from China, Japanese citizens have turned to both law enforcement and telecom companies for assistance. Responding to public concern, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (NTT East) inaugurated a specialized “Harassment Call Handling Center” on Aug. 29.
The company has also established dedicated hotlines for public inquiries and offers guidance on identifying the origin of these nuisance calls. Similarly, NTT West has collaborated with two other telecom providers to launch an “International Call Rejection Center,” providing services to block incoming international calls.
The Japanese government has labeled the harassment calls intolerable and disruptive to public services. They have formally protested through diplomatic channels.
Takeshi Niinami, executive director of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, spoke at a press conference on Aug. 29, attributing the malicious calls to “stress factors such as high unemployment rates among young people in China.”
On the same day, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Yasutoshi Nishimura, expressed “extreme regret and concern,” especially highlighting the calls aimed at health care institutions as “matters of life and death.”
Effect on Japanese Businesses in China
While Japan grapples with harassment calls, Japanese companies operating in mainland China are facing an entirely different set of challenges. Once known for their quality and safety, products labeled “Made in Japan” have suddenly become taboo and have even been targeted for boycotts.
The manager of a Japanese furniture retail chain, Nitori, situated on the outskirts of Beijing, told Yomiuri News, “There’s a growing aversion to ‘Japanese-made’ products.”
A movement calling for a “Boycott of Japanese Goods” is sweeping across mainland China, affecting everything from food and cosmetics to daily essentials. Some retailers have ceased selling these items altogether, while others have stopped purchasing them.
An executive in Japan’s cosmetics industry remarked