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5 Things You Should Know About the China-Japan Territory Dispute

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The latest chapter in a centuries-spanning conflict threatens to embroil the US.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Yes, this is basically the plot of Terry Pratchett's Jingo. There's a tiny little group of islands southwest of Japan and to the east of China. Until recently, the islands (which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu) were privately-owned, but the audacious and incendiary Governor of Tokyo, Shoharo Ishihara, made an independent $26 million bid with funds he raised from his district. The Japanese government, in order to make sure the land was fully Japanese and not simply the property of Tokyo, matched the bid and bought the land.

The Chinese government, however, was instantly outraged, claiming that the islands have always belonged to China, and Japan's bold move has sparked violent protests throughout China against Japanese businesses from sushi stands to automobile factories. The roots of the conflict go deep into the history of the two rival nations, but the results and implications are blossoming today-and could have a big impact on the future of not just the countries involved, but the United States as well.

1. This is about history in a big way. These are countries with a long and bitter rivalry; their first major military conflict occurred back in 1274, and they were pretty much constantly at war from about 1894 to 1945. The first Sino-Japanese war ended with China losing control of Korea, which strongly lessened public support for the Qing Dynasty. This eventually resulted in the 1911 Revolution, which toppled the dynasty and established the Republic of China.
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