Japan has become remote from the world's news in the past few years. There was a time when it featured along with the US in every global analysis or comment piece, but China has largely overshadowed Japan during a period of long economic stagnation for the latter. It's still big and still there, but just below the horizon, or until now, it seems.
At the heart of the current territorial dispute between Japan and China are a bunch of islands far away from the Japanese home islands. After WWII all Japan's outlying claims and territories were nullified, her territory limited to the cluster of home islands only. China assumed ownership of Senkaku but unlike Russia with the Kurils didn't stake it, or at least not until 1971. Unlike Germany, Japan quietly repudiated the post-war penalty laid on her in terms of territory and has been actively reclaiming her pre-war territory.
Heightened nationalism in both nations at a time of political and economic uncertainty has led to some loud sabre rattling, not unlike that which we're experiencing over both Gibraltar and the Falklands. And there most folk think things will stay. However, don't forget the Japanese character. Economically, Mr Abe is about to take a massive gamble to re-start the Japanese economy - "He is expected to
announce a new governor next week who is willing to tear up the rule book
and try the sort of radical policies that pulled Japan out of its slump in
the early 1930s" comments Ambrose in the Telegraph. Let's just hope that fiddling with the Yen is all that Japan reprises from the 1930s.