Japanese boy band SMAP, whose Shanghai gigs were cancelled following China-Japan tensions. Photo from chocochips.co.uk
The Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival, which was due to feature displays by both China and Japan this Thursday, has been cancelled, Shanghai Daily reports today. Organisers have not disclosed why, but we can safely assume that the recent spat between the two countries has something to do with it.
A diplomatic row ensued after Japan detained Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong, whose ship had collided with Japanese coastguards near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands on 7th September. China promptly demanded Zhan’s release, and cut diplomatic communication once Japan refused to free the captain. Last Friday, after two weeks of bickering, Zhan was released.
Thursday’s festival is not the first cultural event on Chinese soil to be affected by the diplomatic spat. Last week, Japan’s foreign ministry cancelled the visit of 1,000 Japanese youths to the Expo, blaming Beijing for tensions that would make the children “unwelcome.” Within a matter of days, ticket sales for Japanese boy band SMAP’s Shanghai gigs were suspended. The concerts, set to be at the Shanghai Stadium on 9th and 10th October, were expected to draw 80,000 fans but were eventually cancelled. Organisers cited fears for the band’s security if protests were to occur outside the stadium as they had done in front of Japanese consulates in both Beijing and Shanghai.
And it doesn’t stop there. According to Japan Today, no less than 20 cultural and political exchanges between China and Japan have been cancelled in the weeks since the conflict. The website reported that Chinese municipalities notified Japanese cities with which they had formed friendship city agreements that regional exchange activities may be terminated. Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Japan-China Friendship Association, due to take place in Beijing on 15th October, will go ahead.
If the fate of the Shanghai International Music Fireworks Festival is anything to go by, perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.