Global politics

Educational-goods giant Gakken is recalling their "Smart Globe". Why? Oh, because...

[the globe] calls Taiwan — which split from communist China amid civil war in 1949 — "Taiwan Island" and says it comes under the jurisdiction of Beijing, the company said in a statement Thursday.

An electronic voice also tells users pointing to Taiwan the island is part of the People's Republic of China, the official name of the Chinese communist regime, according to Gakken spokesman Satoru Aihara.

China Post elaborates

A Gakken spokesman said the company had initially planned simply to display "Taiwan," as is standard in Japanese school textbooks, but Beijing intervened.

"The place of production was China," he said. "The Chinese government's stance was that we could not export unless we changed the expression."

Picture of "Taiwan Island" (台湾島) here, in Japanese. (Note that this Japanese version backs up the China Post story, that it was the Chinese "government" rather than "manufacturer" that required the change. "工場が中国にあり、中国政府から表記を変更しないと輸出を認めないといわれた" is the direct quote.)

The apology and recall notice is up at Gakken's web site. In it, Gakken explain that it is indeed their policy to use Monkashō-approved textbooks as final reference for their content, which neatly allows them to conform to general public opinion and recall the globes without actually issuing an official company opinion on the status of Taiwan.

What really interested me was the other major "issue" listed in the recall notice: that "the southern half of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands was the same color as the Russian Federation" on the globe.

Sakhalin/Karafuto isn't as tense an issue as Taiwan, and its total absence from the AP story is an accurate reflection of its importance to those whose nations are not directly involved, but it is still fairly messy as these things go. As far as I am aware, the Japanese government still claims some of the Russian-administered Kurils (with EU support), but has given up on "Karafuto prefecture", as it were.

Notwithstanding the constitutionally protected opinions held by various private citizens and interest groups, this is probably a reasonable stance given that the only major argument remaining seems to be: "Sure, we agreed to give that territory up in the Treaty of San Francisco, but the Soviets never signed that treaty so technically those islands are still ours". (I would be interested in hearing what the Monkashō/school textbook position on the subject is, if anybody knows.)

Of course, the people who have the most logical right to the island, i.e the Sakhalin Ainu, will continue to get screwed, blued and tattooed no matter who's in charge. (And I don't mean according to their traditions.)

Popularity factor: 4


I guessed the reason after the first line in the post. Do I win a prize?


I really wish that the governments could put aside these petty squabbles and worth together to create, I dunno, some sort of a sphere of prosperity in the area (and I'm talking about Greater East Asia).


Amida: If you guessed the part about Sakhalin and the Kurils too, you certainly deserve one.


Bill, that is an excellent idea. We could call it, oh, I don't know, maybe the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (perhaps 大東亞共榮圈 or 大東亜共栄圏 for the groovy young hip people).

The only question: who would lead such a happy Sphere of Co-Prosperity?

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