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Overcoming the Past in Sino-Japanese Relations?


Historical disputes and nationalism continue to be issues of concern and controversy in the relationship between Japan and China. In 2005, popular nationalist sentiment culminated in nationwide anti-Japanese movements in China. This led to a crucial shift in the way China and Japan deal with history and popular nationalism. An unprecedented dialogue on war memory was initiated in late 2006, and the Sichuan earthquake relief effort in mid-2008 marked a further departure from earlier patterns. The Chinese government shifted away from conventional historiography that largely fed negative images of Japan. While these developments point to new, cooperative attitudes that aim to contain popular nationalist sentiment in manageable proportions, relations are nevertheless increasingly obscured by other tensions in the bilateral relationship.