Japan lodges protest over China's order to scrap Muji map over disputed isles: Reports

Chinese officials took exception to a map that appeared in Japanese lifestyle store Muji's furniture catalogue for autumn and winter 2017. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

TOKYO - Tokyo has lodged a protest with the Chinese government after Japanese retail chain Muji was forced to remove from its mainland stores a catalogue which left out disputed islands claimed by both countries.

"There is no territorial dispute to be settled over the Senkaku Islands. We can by no means accept the measure based on China's unilateral claims," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference on Wednesday (Jan 31), referring to the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

China's official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday that Beijing took exception to a map in Muji's furniture catalogue for autumn and winter 2017.

The catalogue was distributed in China by Muji stores, operated by Ryohin Keikaku in Tokyo.

Ryohin Keikaku said it has scrapped the catalogue after receiving a directive from Chinese officials in October, reported Asahi Shimbun.

The Senkaku Islands, a group of five uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, are administered by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

Mr Suga told a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday that Japan lodged a protest with the Chinese government through a diplomatic channel the previous day.

He added China's move could have a negative impact on the business activities of Japanese companies, reported Kyodo news agency.

China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation told Ryohin Keikaku in October that its map in the catalogues did not show the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands or other islands claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea.

Beijing also took issue with Hainan island being shown in a different colour from the rest of China on the map.

Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on "problematic maps" in August in a sign of China's hardline stance on territorial issues.

The Chinese government has recently accused a number of foreign companies ranging from the world's biggest hotel chain Marriott to Spanish fashion label Zara for listing Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong as countries.

On Jan 12, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said it had asked Delta Air Lines to investigate why Taiwan and Tibet were listed as countries on its website, and demanded an "immediate and public" apology.

The authority also said that it would require all foreign airlines operating routes to China to conduct comprehensive investigations of their websites, apps and customer-related information and "strictly comply with China's laws and regulations".

China's state cyberspace administration closed Marriott's local website for a week after the United States hotel giant mistakenly listed Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as separate countries in a customer questionnaire.

The same regulator accused Zara of placing Taiwan in a pull-down list of countries on its Chinese website.

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