Japanese hail Chinese student for saving boy from raging river

Online applause for tourist who jumped into raging river to rescue nine-year-old

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 10:53am

Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations may be strained, but a Chinese tourist's bravery in saving a boy from a raging river has generated much praise in Japan's online community.

The nine-year-old fell into Osaka's Yodo River in southern Japan at about 5pm on Monday while taking photographs.

He was swept 350 metres down the river, which was heavily swollen by Typhoon Man-Yi. Luckily, Chinese exchange student Yan Jun spotted him, jumped in, and swam 15 metres to bring the boy to shore.

On his Sina Weibo microblog yesterday, Yan, 26, said: "Right after I hit the water I quickly discovered that my body … was completely powerless in the face of nature. I almost died … I was very fortunate to be able to bring that child to shore safely."

The two were taken to hospital with minor injuries and released after treatment.

Yan, who suffered a few minor abrasions from jumping into the river, said he had "just done the natural thing".

"If I hadn't saved this boy, his life would have been in danger."

Chinese-language Japanese news site Riben Xinwen said Yan had been looking at universities and planned to enter Osaka City University's PhD programme.

Japanese internet users were lavish in their praise of Yan and word of his heroics spread quickly on social media. More than 2,000 comments were left at the end of a Yahoo Japan report of the incident.

Yan was called everything from "heroic" to "selfless", and more than a few commentators said: "Chinese people are so brave."

Such a positive online response is rare in Japan, where the stereotype of the rude Chinese tourist is frequently propagated. And a territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, has done little to improve Japanese perceptions of Chinese visitors.

A member of Yahoo Japan's online community "hoped all Chinese tourists in Japan would act in the same way as [Yan]."

In the Chinese social media world, Yan's actions were applauded in over 1,000 messages on his Sina Weibo microblog.

A day after rescuing the boy, Yan wrote: "I am extremely grateful for all of the support that the online community has given me.

"I hope that all members of the online community will care for their own safety in [similar situations] when they are forced to do the right thing."