TOKYO - "The same Uniqlo clothes somehow feel better here," said Liu Zheng, a 26-year-old man from China, during his first visit to Tokyo's posh Ginza district, late last month. Liu spent 50,000 yen ($408) at the Uniqlo on Ginza's main street, buying a light down jacket, a T-shirt and other items of clothing.
"The city is very clean and fun to walk around," he also noted.
In 2010, while still a university student, Liu participated in an anti-Japanese demonstration in his hometown of Wuhan, Hubei Province. The protest was in response to an incident in which a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard patrol ships collided in the East China Sea off the coast of the Senkaku Islands, which are a part of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. China also claims the islands and calls them Diaoyu.
"After visiting Japan, I realised that anti-Japanese demos are meaningless," he said. "A lack of knowledge is scary."
While Liu was enjoying his time shopping in Ginza, tensions were growing as a US warship sailed past artificial islands that are being built by China in the South China Sea despite international calls to stop such land reclamation. "I wonder who the [Chinese] military has created the islands for. The average person doesn't want friction," Liu said.