Apple found itself standing on a potential political land mine, of sorts, as the company pulled a game from its Chinese-language App Store. The game, Defend the Diaoyu Islands, depicted soldiers with Japanese imagery—including ninjas and Sumo wrestlers—attacking the titular island chain, which is claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan, too.
Apple, China, and Japan
Apple hasn’t said why it pulled the game, but China Daily (via Bloomberg), which broke the story, noted that local App Store guidelines say that apps, “cannot target a specific race, culture, real government or corporation or any other real entity.”
Clearly the game does just that by targeting Japan itself. The issue is a potential hot button, as tensions linger in China over Japan’s invasion of the country in WWII, while hard core nationalists in Japan itself deny the excesses of that invasion, including what has since become known as “The Rape of Nanking.”
On top of that simmering hot bed of historical animosity, the islands sit on what could be enormous oil and natural gas reserves, and that’s really at the heart of the dispute over which country controls the islands today.
The developer of the game, Shenzhen ZQGame Network Co., seemingly wanted to capitalize on nationalistic pride within China by developing the Plants vs. Zombies-style game casting the Japanese icons as the enemy. As it is, the company claims they weren’t given a reason for the game being pulled, but the above-referenced guideline seems a solid guess.