Relations between the two nations have never been more than lukewarm at best.
Most Chinese believe Japan -- which had occupied and brutally ruled China from 1933 to 1945 -- has never properly atoned for its war crimes, including the sexual slavery of tens of thousands of Asian women.
Citing Japan's wartime atrocities, China opposes Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. On a recent trip to India, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told journalists that 'only a country that respects history, takes responsibility for history, and wins over the trust of peoples in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibilities in the international community.'
Anti-Japan protesters march through the streets of Hong Kong, April 17.
Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images
Also read: Remembering a War
Additional Insight: Regional standoff has global implications