Japanese companies skip Beijing trade fair amid political tensions

Kyodo

The number of Japanese entries in an international services trade fair that opened in Beijing on Tuesday is sharply down from last year amid lingering political tensions.

Only nine Japanese companies and organizations are taking part in the Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services, compared with 19 in 2012.

A Japanese vice trade minister attended the inaugural fair last May at the invitation of the Chinese government, but no senior Japanese government official plans to attend this time.

Heiwa Shuzou Co., a sake and “umeshu” plum liquor producer in Wakayama Prefecture that operates a booth at the Japan Pavilion, expressed hope that ties will improve to make it easier for Japanese companies to do business in China.

“We are planning to branch into China, which is a growing market,” said executive director Norimasa Yamamoto. “I don’t think Japan and China can afford to confront each other forever.”

Okinawa is taking part in the trade fair to promote tourism and local products.

“We would like to continue economic and cultural exchanges with China,” said Yuji Taira, head of the prefecture’s Beijing representative office.