Chinese developer Shenzhen ZQGame Network created a new game for iPhone called “Defend the Diaoyu Islands,” which Bloomberg calls a “‘Plants vs. Zombies’-style game” in which Japanese ninjas and sumo wrestlers invade the islands and players defend against the attacks.
A Chinese-language version of the game had been in the App Store, but Apple pulled it today.
It turns out Diaoyu Islands are the the center of a geopolitical dispute between China and Japan. Called the Senkaku Isands in Japanese, they lie halfway between Taiwan and Japan’s Okinawa Island. Both China and Japan claim domain over the islands.
The U.S. controlled them until 1971 when it transferred control to Japan. While they have been internationally recognized as Japanese territory since, China disputes this and maintains that its own ownership claim dates back to the 1300s. Japan annexed it in 1895 but relinquished ownership as part of its surrender at the end of World War II.
Bloomberg notes Apple’s guidelines stipulate developers “cannot target a specific race, culture, real government or corporation or any other real entity,” and notes the game includes “music from ‘Tunnel Warfare,’ a Chinese movie about the Second Sino- Japanese War.”
Apparently not wanting to inflame any old tensions between the two nations, Apple put the kaibosh on the game altogether.
Let this be a lesson to developers: If you want to include ninjas in your game, they’ve got to be the fun, fictional kind of ninjas, not the kind that still inflict cultural wounds from semi-recent history.
Image via RealUltimatePower.net, where you can find plenty of fully awesome, fully fictional ninja action.