"Tang Little Kyoto", a Japanese-themed attraction in Dalian city, China has been ordered to close, after Chinese netizens branded the place as "cultural invasion" by the Japanese, Nikkei Asia reported.
Chinese netizens on social media site Weibo were initially furious with the Japanese-themed attraction, while some pointed out that it was "insensitive" to ignore the history of the Japanese occupation.
Rumours about the management only allowing Japanese businesses to operate were also rife, until the management debunked the false accusations, according to Chinese state-controlled media Global Times (GT).
29 shops affected by the closure
According to Nikkei, "Tang Little Kyoto" has been ordered by the municipality to halt operations temporarily due to the heat from netizens and fears of Covid-19 due to the crowd of visitors.
The attraction only opened less than two weeks ago on Aug. 25, according to GT.
In a video posted on Aug. 31 by a YouTuber named "China Unconcealed", the streets in the attraction were crowded and there appeared to be a steady stream of people walking around the area.
29 shops that opened for business in the "Phase One" opening of the Kyoto-styled attraction have reportedly been affected as they are forced to halt businesses for the time being.
A Panasonic electronics store, some retailers of Hokkaido and Hiroshima products, as well as various Japanese restaurants were among those affected by the closure, according to the Liberty Times.
The attraction is unlikely to open anytime soon as the Manchurian Incident, which happened on Sep. 18, 1931, is remembered by the Chinese as an act of aggression by the Japanese even till today.
Back then, the Japanese troops staged an explosion at a railway in Manchuria, which is in modern northeastern China, and blamed the Chinese instead so as to invade Manchuria.
Project worth RMB6 billion
According to the promotional video, the Japanese-themed attraction is located in a "5A" tourist attraction area in Dalian, certified by the Chinese government as "the most important and best-maintained tourist attractions".
The RMB6 billion (S$1.24 billion) project consists of commercial lots, 83 home-style hotel units and some 1,300 Japanese-style villas, Nikkei reported. The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.
The Dalian government have reportedly supported the project up till the recent uproar from Chinese netizens, with the mayor attending a signing ceremony in Tokyo in April 2019.
Chinese netizens angry at developer and local government
Meanwhile, Chinese netizens blasted the developer in charge of the project and the local Dalian government for approving a Japanese-themed town in China, saying it is an action of "low EQ".
Some Chinese netizens pointed to the history of Japanese occupation in Dalian. The Japanese occupied Dalian twice, where the first occupation in 1894 resulted in the Port Arthur massacre.
Others called for a boycott of the attraction and investigations to be launched against the local officials.
Another netizen accused the developer for misrepresenting history by simply attaching "Tang" dynasty in their name to pass off the Japanese-themed attraction as having roots to the Tang dynasty of China.
"The officials who approved the building of this project should be investigated."
Not a surprise
Prior to the commencement of the attraction, an article by Nikkei on Aug. 21, warned of a "political flare-up" between Japan and China, especially on issues concerning Taiwan.
The writer concluded with a remark advising the "project backers" to "pay careful attention" to Chinese sentiments if they hope the project would "pay off".
Follow and listen to our podcast here
Top image via Cosmic Serban/Unsplash & Weibo