Frictions between China and Japan have resurfaced after a group of 168 Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday paid their respects at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies war-dead including those guilty of atrocities. It was the first time in eight years that a group of over 100 Japanese politicians visited the shrine. On the same day, a fleet of Chinese marine surveillance vessels drove Japanese boats out of waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands, thwarting the provocative attempts of around 80 Japanese right wingers.
The South Korean government has issued a strongly worded complaint over the Japanese politicians' visit to the shrine. China and South Korea have shown their shared outrage over the Yasukuni Shrine issue, but Japan seems to have disregarded this.
There are not many extreme right wingers in Japan, but Japanese society has still been tilting further toward right-wing views.
These days, provocations have been coming from Japan's deputy prime minister, a group of over 100 lawmakers and the right wingers creating waves over the Diaoyu Islands issue.
The Chinese government is taking the lead in dealing with Japan. However, it has little leverage when dealing with various forces within Japan. This reality cannot be changed in the near future. This means the Chinese government's stance has to be tough. Chinese marine surveillance vessels have done a pretty good job on this occasion. Since the Diaoyu crisis broke out last year, the tough resistance of the Chinese government against Japan has made it the main force in safeguarding the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands.
The latest situation involving the Diaoyu Islands has demonstrated the contrast in terms of strength between China and Japan as well as the changing East Asia strategic arena.
The Yasukuni Shrine visits are evidence of Japan's reluctance to accept reality. Japanese society is becoming increasingly radical, but continues to take a careful approach in maritime conflicts with China.
Japan lacks a clear strategy in East Asia. Encountering China's rise, it hasn't formed a policy that helps it maximize its interests, and instead shows resentment and anxiety. Its alliance with the US cannot help it solve its own strategic dilemma.
The gradual decline in Japan's power is the reason for its lack of confidence.
Japan is like a marijuana smoker, who enjoys the excitement of the moment but is ultimately damaging itself at the same time. Japan will fall by itself. China doesn't need to launch fierce counterattacks. Instead, it can just express its firm stance to make Japan feel scared.
China needs to create diplomatic leverage over Japan, which could help it express its determination when dealing with issues related to sovereignty and historical matters, and bring the Sino-Japanese conflict under control.