Even after Sony China apologized on Thursday, consumers were dissatisfied. Of the nearly 130,000 votes cast in a Weibo poll (in Chinese) created by Sina Tech today, over 80% of respondents said that the Japanese company hadn’t gained their forgiveness. “Issuing an apology is just a knee-jerk reaction to the backlash. I highly doubt that there’s any genuineness behind it,” a person who participated in the poll wrote.
Sony is among several brands in recent years that have faced fierce criticism on Chinese social media for insensitive marketing or products. And given the tumultuous, troubled history between China and Japan, Japanese companies are subject to special scrutiny as anti-Japan sentiment still runs high in China.
In 2019, the Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI upset people with a marketing campaign that referred to a historic neighborhood in Shanghai as “the French Concession.” While the name is still commonly used among locals, some people saw it in a different light, saying that it reminded them of Shanghai’s “humiliating” history of being colonized. Last year, Capcom, a Japanese video game developer and publisher, stoked outrage among patriotic Chinese gamers after using “918” as a passcode in its game Resident Evil 3. Some critics believed that the number was a reference to September 18, the date of the Mukden Incident in 1931, where Japanese soldiers staged a bombing of their own railway and blamed it on the Chinese in order to invade northeastern China.