Street demonstrations and alleged employee sabotage have forced Panasonic and Canon to temporarily suspend operations in several factories in China this week.
Canon is reported by NBC News to have suspended operations at three of its four plants – a digital camera factory in Guangdong, a laser printer factory in Guangdong, and a copier plant in Jiangsu.
Canon announced that work is suspended for security concerns for its workers, so re-starting operations should occur quickly once the conflict passes.
But a fire in the Panasonic factory located in Qingdao could cause a further disruption. Protestors smashed their way into a Panasonic’s Qingdao component factory, damaging parts of the facility and setting some parts on fire, which triggered on-site sprinkler systems. Another factory in Suzhou was also damaged when protestors smashed windows and broke in.
The protests, which media reports say have spread to 85 cities across China and involve tens of thousands, intensified this week, with September 19 being the anniversary of Japan’s savage invasion of Manchuria in 1931.
Bands of protestors smashed Japanese cars as well as local restaurants that serve sushi and other Japanese fare, with media reports saying the number of protestors reached over 80,000 last Saturday, making the protests the largest in recent history.
The protests follow Chinese displeasure in the Japanese Government buying a strategic but disputed archipelago in the East China Sea: the Japanese call it the Senkaku Islands, and the Chinese call it the Diaoyu Islands.