With all the attention on North Korea, perhaps Eurocentric blogs like this one should be keeping a closer eye on the increasing “bilateral estrangement” between China and Japan.

The tensions are palpable at the elite level, such as the recent tensions over the Senkaku Islands near Taiwan. A lot of this has to do with access to potential oil reserves in the area.

But they are even more serious at the cultural level. Football matches between the two countries are not a pretty sight, and there are suggestions that “anti-Japanese nationalist sentiment is now being exploited to boost the Communist leadership’s waning ideological authority”.

Much of the Chinese anger geared towards Japan relates to the sense that Japan has not adequatly atoned for its crimes during the Second World War. A major sticking point is Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the Yasakuni Shrine in Tokyo, where Japanese war dead, including a number considered war criminals, are buried.

The Japanese are concerned about the Chinese military and arms sales to it by Israel and the European Union. And according to Simon Tisdall in the Guardian, Russia is siding with Japan because it shares this concern.