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December 30 2012
Keen observers know that Japan’s ugly territorial disputes with its neighbors aren’t really about fishing grounds or oil and gas reserves or ancient historical claims. What they’re about is that the Japanese still – still – won’t admit they did anything wrong during the Second World War or during their long colonial rule in Asia.
That’s how the neighbors see it, anyway. And it explains why arguments with China and South Korea over islands of questionable value have turned into volatile confrontations. Armed ships are conducting rival patrols around the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, which Japan controls but are claimed by China; Japan and South Korea are in a bitter feud over Dokdo (Takeshima) Island, which South Korea controls but which Japan claims.
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