China-Japan Relations: Trading Goods While Exchanging Words

In her first press briefing as Japan’s new Defense Minister, Tomomi Inada sidestepped questions over Japan’s actions in the Nanjing massacre during WWII, confirming for some the worst fears of Japan’s neighbors that she will bring a hawkish, conservative view to her new post. This comes at a time when security relations between China and Japan are at a low point. However, even though tensions continue to grow, the economic ties between the two countries remain strong and more important than ever.

This has been a tense year in the China-Japan relationship. In the first three months alone, Japan scrambled its fighter jets a record 193 times to intercept Chinese aircraft in its airspace, more than double that of the same time period in the previous year. The uptick in sorties is a combination of increasing Chinese assertiveness and capabilities in addition to Japan’s growing concerns over the readiness of its own forces. The sorties have occurred over the East China Sea, where China has pushed for its claim over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands since 2012.

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