(AsiaNews) - On the 81st anniversary of the incident that led to
Japan's invasion of China, relations between the two countries are worsening. The
dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands does not seem to be abating. In fact,
the two governments appear to have their own reasons to up the ante. China wants
to distract people from the upcoming Communist Party congress, which should put
a new set of leaders in power. Japan needs greater national cohesion at a time
when it is undergoing a major economic and energy policy shift.
On 18 September 1931,
Japan blew up a railway in Manchuria, blaming it on Chinese dissidents. Remembered
as the 'Mukden Incident,' it became the pretext to invade northeast China and
divide China's republican government. Japanese troops remained until 1945 when the
forces of Mao and the Republican government drove them out.
Today, in the
name of national sovereignty, both nations are letting demonstrations and
violent acts to take place.
When two Japanese
activists landed on the disputed islands, Beijing asked Tokyo for immediate
explanations, warning it would not tolerate such actions. Meanwhile, in the
islands' waters, six Chinese patrol boats are protecting a thousand fishing
It is not clear
what the islands are worth, but some experts believe they are strategically located
astride some major maritime routes. Others consider them important because of
their fishing grounds or their vast seabed gas reserves.
In 2008, Beijing
and Tokyo had agreed to develop the area jointly, but they never saw the accord
demonstrations have multiplied in many of China's cities. Police have tended to
be restrained, allowing thousands of protesters to throw rocks at shops and Japanese
For some, this
self-restraint reflects the government's desire to distract ordinary Chinese
from the upcoming party congress, which should crown the rise of the Communist regime's
Japan is also
facing protests. A man was arrested in the southern city of Fukuoka for
throwing two smoke bombs at the local Chinese consulate.
Yuya Fujita, a 21-year-old
construction worker, reportedly told police that he lobbed the smoke bombs "in
a protest against China". No one was hurt.
are also not in a hurry to stop the anti-Chinese wave. After announcing it was
going to phase nuclear energy over the next 30 years, the government can expect
a major negative impact on economic growth forecast at a time when new
elections are on the horizon.
companies have paid a price. Nissan Motors lost 2.5 per cent, Honda dropped 1.4
per cent and Fast Retailing 4.9 per cent.
down its plant in Qingdao as Canon did the same to three of its plants. Honda
and Nissan stopped production for two days, Mazda for four. Seven &
Holdings closed 13 supermarkets and 198 outlets. Sony told its employees to
avoid non-essential travel to China.
Japan also faces
a structural problem. Over the years, its companies have heavily invested in
China, despite the historic rivalry between the two countries. Government-guaranteed
cheap labour and the yen's high value made it more convenient to manufacture on
protests and nationalism could force Japanese business to change their