During the week of Feb 14, TV news channels repeatedly broadcast scenes of hordes of tourists from mainland China who, on holiday during their country's lunar new year, converged on department stores in Ginza, appliance shops in Akihabara and rural hot springs hotels.
Less widely reported were unsuccessful efforts last year by a Chinese energy company to acquire a stake in a Japanese manufacturer of nuclear power reactor components. The firm is also a supplier to Japan's Self Defense Forces.
China, with its huge and growing accumulation of foreign reserves, may find it more expedient to tap into foreign hi-tech industries than develop its own home-grown technologies.
In a special report featuring nine articles spanning 24 pages, Sapio (Mar 10) parades out the data to support its anxiety-tinged headline that "China will buy up Japan."
This is not about the spending binge by vacationing tourists: it's about concerns over the fate of Japan's corporations, its real estate, its food supply -- even its women.
Take real estate. While the markets for condominiums in Shanghai and Beijing appear to be overheating, prices in Japan are seen as having bottomed out, making purchase a sensible proposition for Chinese investors.
In addition to investment in prime urban commercial and residential properties, some Chinese investors are reportedly setting themselves up as absentee landlords, renting out blocks of one-room apartment units to fellow Chinese who come to Japan to study.
The purchases are raising national security concerns. A Chinese consortium recently bid on Mitsugo, an uninhabited island in Japan's Inland Sea close to Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces and U.S. military bases. It is said Chinese buyers are also have their eye on islands in the Ryukyu chain close to the boundary between Japan and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, a reporter for a fishing industry trade publication says that Chinese have become big buyers the Nagasaki fish market, putting a pinch on already tight supply of "kuro maguro" (Pacific bluefin tuna). Another article, noting that China has launched a national project to promote traditional Asian remedies, warns that Japan may be squeezed out of the market in areas ranging from training schools to acupuncture needles to herbal medications.
Not even Japanese names are safe from the onslaught. By virtue of a first-come, first-served policy at the domestic trademark office, Chinese firms have been snatching up Japanese geographic names by the dozens. Even Mt Fuji -- Japan's sacred peak and national icon -- now belongs to Hong Kong-based Fujisan Technology Stock Company Limited, which holds exclusive trademark rights in China until Sept 14, 2014.
As if these incursions were not enough, Sapio notes that China's demographic imbalance threatens to spill over its borders. As a result of the rigid one-child policy, in five of China's 22 provinces, the ratio of male births to female has reached 130:100. By 2020, Chinese males are projected to outnumber females by some 24 million.
When the Zhongguo Xinwenshe news agency polled Chinese males on which nationality they'd prefer if marrying a foreigner, Japanese females were the top choice, named by one out of four respondents.
With marriage becoming increasingly globalized, this represents a new and ominous portent for already beleaguered Japanese males.© Japan Today