Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Taiwanese stars staying away from Japan amid row

By Chen Chia-ming,Ho Ching-hsienand Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

With a new wave of anti-Japan sentiment in China over the Japanese government’s recent move to nationalize three of the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), Taiwanese showbiz performers are shunning cooperation with Japan-based corporations in an apparent move to avoid being caught in the territorial crossfire.

The Japanese government paid ¥2.05 billion (US$26 million) for three of the islands in the chain on Sept. 11 in an effort to nationalize the archipelago, a resource-rich island group in the East China Sea claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands.

The move prompted an angry rebuke from the Chinese government, which accused Japan of “playing with fire,” setting aflame widespread anti-Japan demonstrations in several cities across China over the past few days.

Taiwanese supermodel and actress Lin Chi-ling (林志玲) is said to have put off a scheduled visit to Japan on Sept. 10 to promote her latest movie, Sweet Heart Chocolate (甜心巧克力), which was funded by Chinese and Japanese firms, because of the escalating tension over the island group.

Despite a previous explanation that the postponement was the result of a post-production delay, Lin’s manager, Fan Ching-mei (范清美), said on Monday that “given the current circumstances,” Lin would not fly to Japan to take part in the movie’s promotion campaign.

“She is an actress who only wants to concentrate on her work, rather than intervening in any political issues. She has not received any job offers from Japan recently and therefore has no plan to visit the country anytime soon,” Fan said.

Taiwanese actor Jerry Yan (言承旭), who has a large fan base in Japan, is in negotiations to star in a new movie and does not have any plans to visit Japan recently, Yan’s manager Chi Yi-liang (紀宜良) said.

TV idol Peter Ho (何潤東), who has starred in a number of Japanese films, also does not have plans to visit Japan in the near future, according to Ho’s agent A-ben, who said Ho had not flown to the country after a promotion event for Taiwanese idol drama, Ring Ring Bell (真心請按兩次鈴), in July.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese singer Vivian Hsu (徐若瑄), a highly recognized celebrity in Japan, who is currently in Hong Kong shooting a Japanese televised drama based on the Kindaichi Case Files (金田一少年事件簿), a popular Japanese manga series, declined to comment on the territorial row.

“She only wishes to do her work and carry out her duty as a showbiz performer, and does not want to comment on the issue at this point,” Hsu’s manager Chai Hsiao-chien (柴曉倩) said.

Despite being assigned as the Tourism Bureau’s representative to Japan in 2010, local boy band Fahrenheit (飛輪海) also appeared to be avoiding visiting Japan during the politically sensitive period.

“They do not have any scheduled visits to Japan in the near future,” said HIM International Music, the group’s record label.

Taiwanese singer Show Luo (羅志祥) also canceled two scheduled concerts to be staged in Tokyo later this month, which could have generated about NT$12 million (US$408,000) in ticket revenue, amid intensified anti-Japan sentiment across China.

“Before the issue [territorial dispute] is properly settled, I will suspend all promotional activities in Japan,” Luo said in a post on his Sina Weibo account on Monday.

The post has received more than 45,000 comments and has been shared almost 58,000 times, with most of Luo’s Chinese fans applauding him for his “guts.”

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