Police in China arrest cosplayer for ‘wearing a kimono’ near anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender
In a video reportedly filmed on August 10, a policeman accuses a young Chinese woman wearing a kimono, a traditional Japanese outfit, of "causing trouble" before arresting her. The scene, which has gone viral online since August 14, is the subject of debate on Chinese social networks, 77 years after Japan's surrender in World War II.
The controversy that has been stirring up Chinese social networks for the past few days surrounds a cosplayer, a person who dresses as a Japanese manga and anime character. The cosplayer shared a video on her Weibo account, the equivalent of Twitter in China, in which a police officer reproaches her for wearing a Japanese kimono.
In the video, she can be seen facing a police officer from behind. She is wearing a blonde wig and a pink kimono with flowers, similar to the one worn by the heroine of the Japanese anime "Summer Time Rendering" (2022). She explained on her Weibo account (archive link available here) that she was queuing outside a Japanese restaurant with her photographer on August 10 after a photo shoot when the police arrived.
A young Chinese woman was taken away by local police in Suzhou last Wednesday because she was wearing a kimono. "If you would be wearing Hanfu (Chinese traditional clothing), I never would have said this, but you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!" pic.twitter.com/et8vWOferQ— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) August 15, 2022
旁观者拍摄的录像。 pic.twitter.com/ZnXI2ssDLK— bridgeduan (@bridgeduan) August 16, 2022
In the original video, which had accumulated nearly 8 million views before being removed, the young woman is facing police officers. One policeman says to her in Chinese: "If you were wearing a hanfu, there would be no problem, but you are wearing a kimono and you are Chinese. Are you Chinese?"
The woman takes offence and the policeman then tells her that she is suspected of "causing trouble".
Summer Time Rendering Final Color Pages to commemorate its end in Shonen Jump+ App. Aside from the TV anime and Live-Action adaptations, an Escape Game based on the series will be made. pic.twitter.com/sRPlFDy226— Shonen Jump News - Unofficial (@WSJ_manga) January 31, 2021
The scene took place in the city of Suzhou, a neighbouring city of Shanghai. More precisely in Huaihai Street, known for its many Japanese restaurants and shops, where the cosplayer explains that she went to re-enact several scenes from an anime series.
According to the young woman's account on social networks, she was questioned for nearly five hours before being released. The Suzhou police have not officially reacted or responded to requests from several media outlets such as The Guardian, nor have they officially announced any sanctions for the cosplayer. According to CNN, the young woman explained on her profile on the "Qzone" platform that the police asked her to write a letter of apology.
Between nationalist criticism and photos of supporters in kimonos
The video has elicited widespread debate online, against a backdrop of heightened anti-Japanese sentiment in China on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of Japan's surrender and the end of World War II.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries remain tense, with China arguing that Japan has not apologised sufficiently for abuses committed during the war, notably the 1937 Nanjing massacre. Currently, tensions are particularly high as Japan accuses China of threatening peace by carrying out military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.
On Weibo, several posts criticised the young woman for wearing traditional Japanese dress in such a context.
Others said the officer reacted excessively, saying that the young woman had worn the outfit on August 10, and not August 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender.
However, it is difficult to give a complete overview of the reaction to the incident: CNN claimed that a related hashtag has been censored from Weibo after accumulating 90 million views.
For its part, the news site What's On Weibo notes that the state channel CCTV promoted a topic on Weibo about the Chinese hanfu, the counterpart of the Japanese kimono, on the evening of the controversy.