Ways to tell it must be the anniversary of the end of World War Two:
- Japan arrests Chinese activists who land on one of the Senkakus, known as the Diaoyus to China, the islands in the East China Sea islands whose ownership is disputed by the two countries;
- Beijing lodges a strong protest with Tokyo;
- Japanese cabinet ministers make their annual controversial visit to the Yasukuni shrine for the war dead in Tokyo;
This year, add something new to the list: South Korea’s president making remarks about Japan’s Emperor, drawing a protest from Tokyo that they were insulting. Lee Myung-bak told a group of teachers that if Emperor Akihito wants to visit South Korea (something that is apparently in no one’s travel plans) he should apologize more sincerely than his 1990 expression of “deepest regrets” over the war.
More than six decades on, the war in East Asia still casts a long shadow over the region. Tapping into anti-Japanese sentiment remains a surefire way to seek public support in South Korea and China. This particular year, with tensions rising over territorial claims in both the East and South China Seas, its shadow risks being darker and heavier than usual.