Chinese Tourists

I just this weekend returned from a one week Tokyo bizcation (business and pleasure), where I got my fill of great food, great temples, great cherry blossoms and Chinese tourists. But rather than me go off and tell you what I saw of the Chinese tourists, I will instead discuss how the Japanese are reacting to them, starting with this article from The Nanfang entitled Chinese Tourists Rampage Through Japan’s Cherry Blossoms.

This article talks about how Japanese are so angry with the behavior of (some) Chinese tourists that they are calling for “Chinese only zones” to minimize the damage and the disruptions they cause. For two reasons, I find this horrible and incredibly sad. First, it reminds me of how badly the United States treated the Chinese who came to the United States in the 1800s and the early 1900s. Calling for Chinese only zones harkens back to those days as it is discriminatory to the extreme. No matter how bad Chinese tourists may act, I would never condone segregating them. Second, I find it sad and horrible that it has come to this.

But even with my very limited dealings with Japanese while I was there, I heard more than once their views on the Chinese tourists in their midst. Our hotel concierge urged that we go to Ueno Park “before 10 a.m. because the Chinese start to come after that and ruin it for everybody else.” When I looked at her somewhat stunned, she proceeded to apologize profusely for their behavior and said that “everyone is hoping that they will not be allowed to come during cherry blossom season next year. It would be better.” A Japanese lawyer told me pretty much the same thing and of how “much better the cherry blossom season was before the Chinese started coming.” He then went on a diatribe about how they do not “really appreciate beauty but just come to say that they were here and because they are still really mad at us.” I did not bother to ask why they would come to Japan because they are mad, because the whole conversation made me too uncomfortable and I feared it would only get worse.

Japan has to be one of the most orderly, law abiding, safety conscious nations in the world. Nobody jay walks. Nobody cuts in line. Nobody steals. Nobody speaks so loudly as to bother others. Pretty much everyone is helpful and respectful. It is flat out amazing in these regards. Not surprisingly, it expects similar behavior from others.

Japan does not hesitate to discriminate. Pretty much every single time I have left Japan via air, including this time, I am taken out for a “random” search, along with pretty much every non-Japanese male over 5’8″ tall. Come on. So is it possible that Japan will block Chinese tourists for a few weeks during next year’s cherry season? I highly doubt it. But I could see them start steering Chinese tourists to certain parks/places at certain times, while alerting non-Chinese that is what is happening. For all I know, that is happening already, hence the concierge’s advice to get there before ten. This too would be very sad.

What can and should be done about this, beyond just adding more names to China’s cannot leave list? What are your thoughts? Is this just a China problem or is this happening because of globalization and the Chinese are unfairly getting tarnished with one big brush that should include others? Is this a case of unfairly imposing one country’s values on another? Do you find all of this as sad as I do? hese are some really tough times for globalization and no country is immune to this. Is this a Japan problem or a China problem or a problem of both countries or the entire world?

Serious and respectful comments are welcome.

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Dan Harris

I am a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

I was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, I am AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), I am rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (its highest rating), and I am a SuperLawyer.

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog (www.chinalawblog.com). Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.