Are China and Japan still fighting a war after 120 years?
By admin June 18, 2014



Conflicts between China and Japan over the tiny islands of Diaoyu and Senkaku in the East China Sea have continued for over a century. On May 24th, armed Chinese fighter planes buzzed Japan Self-Defense Forces aircraft; on June 11, two Japanese planes flew dangerously close to a Chinese plane over the Sea, with both countries blaming the other.


The tensions in China’s relations with Japan date back to the 1894-5 Sino-Japanese War. The Treaty of Shimonoseki after the war compelled China’s rulers to relinquish Taiwan and its outlying islands, territory along the Asian coast, and to pay a massive indemnity to Japan, which is considered as one of the greatest humiliations in Chinese history.


The relationship between China and Japan has been complicated since the Sino-Japanese War. In 1931, Japan invaded northeastern China, setting up a puppet state in Manchuria until being defeated by the Soviets at the end of World War II. The Nanjing Massacre in 1937 was one of the most poisonous incidents in the relationship as China claimed that over 200,000 people were killed, while some Japanese, especially several politicians, denied the incident to different extents. The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Japan in the 1970s was a big step for both countries; however, the relationship was continually being damaged as several Prime Ministers of Japan visited the Yasukuni War Shrine. The Shrine lists 2,466,532 people who died during the wars, including 1,068 was criminals, which leads to extreme controversies as these criminals might killed thousands of Chinese during the World War II. And nowadays, a number of Japanese history textbooks, which play down Japan’s wartime wrongs, have angered many in China.


The tense relationship impedes economic cooperation between the two countries with trade between the two nations on the decline since 2012 partly because of the rising anti-Japanese sentiment in China stemmed from the checkered history. But as the world’s second and third largest economies, they need each other to realize economic advances, not only for their own people but also for the whole region.


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