Panda Death and Japan-China Relations

Panda pile-up by Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/davelau/2189668038/sizes/l/in/photostream/">Chi King</a> via Creative Commons

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Right now, China-Japan relations are not exactly warm and fuzzy. The two countries share thousands of years of history, some of it involving war, and this weekend there were protests throughout Japan after a Chinese captain allegedly used his boat to ram two Japanese coast guard ships near the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, which both countries lay claim to. The Chinese captain was under arrest, but Japanese authorities released him and refuse to release video of the incident, sparking thousands of Japanese to take to the streets.

Another spanner in the works: the death of a panda in a Japanese zoo was determined to be a result of “human error.” Oji Zoo panda Kou Kou was having semen extracted when material from his stomach went into his lungs, asphyxiating him. The inhalation of vomitus is called aspiration asphyxia, and it’s the reason doctors tell you not to eat before a procedure. If you regurgitate while unconscious, on your back, whatever you ate will be breathed into your lungs, blocking the airflow and possibly killing you. Japan must now pay China around $500,000 for the death of Kou Kou, and it’s unknown if the incident will affect a July deal in which China will rent two pandas to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo in exchange for about $1 million a year. Pandas are notoriously bad at breeding in the wild, but have tremendous appeal for zoo visitors. While some have suggested we let the panda go extinct, the animal remains a diplomatic tool for China, even in tense times. China is recently ran a contest for six people to become “Pambassadors”: panda ambassadors who will spend a month working at China’s Chengdu panda reserve. One of the six Pambassadors is a Japanese woman. Seems like she may have a harder job than she originally signed up for.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate