BEIJING (Kyodo) Major supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co. opened its fifth shopping mall in Beijing on Thursday as scheduled, undeterred by the recent string of anti-Japan demonstrations in major Chinese cities.
The mall, which has five floors and one basement floor, opened in the morning in the western part of the capital. Some 80 security guards were assigned to the store for the opening, compared with the usual 50, according to the retailer.
“There was a bit more tension in the air than at a usual store opening,” Ito-Yokado Managing Director Akihiko Hanawa later told a news conference. “But we have seen no protests and we hope to continue to open outlets in China.”
The opening comes less than a week after anti-Japan demonstrations broke out in major cities, including Beijing.
During the rallies, protesters vandalized Japanese targets, including diplomatic property and restaurants, and called for a boycott of Japanese products. The protesters took to the streets to voice their anger against new Japanese textbooks that they claim distort Japan’s wartime past.
“It may seem like a bad time given the anti-Japan activities, but we decided to proceed steadily, according to schedule,” Hanawa said of the new Beijing outlet.
The mall opened for a test run for three days from Saturday, when the capital was rocked by the demonstrations. It attracted 30,000 to 35,000 customers a day during that time, Hanawa said.
Some customers who visited the outlet Thursday were unaware it had any connection with Japan.
“I didn’t know,” Wang Li, 24, said when asked if she knew that it was a Japanese-linked store.
“I just came to look because I saw an advertisement saying that there was going to be a new store,” she said. Asked whether it bothered her to shop at a partly Japanese-owned establishment, she said, “Not really.”
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