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Japan's Prime Minister's Office to Launch Account on China's Sina Weibo

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, July 25 2012

According to a blog post on TechinAsia, the Japanese Prime Minister's Office is planning to launch a microblogging account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese platform that is often compared to Twitter.

Sina Weibo is a bit of a behemoth in the social media world, with more than 300 million users. Recently Chinese officials tacitly recognized the microblogging platform's influence when it decided against filtering words related to streets protests in the city of Shifang, even as state-run mainstream media were forbidden to report on the protests. As TechinAsia points out, the Japanese prime minister is not the first foreign leader to recognize the access and influence available via Sina Weibo: Australian politicians, including former prime minster Kevin Rudd, recently started microblogging on the site.

China has been Japan's largest trading partner for the past five years, accounting for nearly 21 percent of Japan's total trade volume in 2011. In U.S. dollar terms, that is 344.9 billion.

Given the shaky state of Japan's economy and its reliance on China as a trading partner, the Japanese government's desire to smooth over any tension is understandable. What's interesting is that they regard social media as an effective - some say essential - diplomatic tool for reaching people in a country that censors the Internet.

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