Sino-Japanese relations do not look promising at the moment. Obviously, the Diaoyu-Senkaku dispute is not the only factor in play, but it does focus nationalist passions on both sides. Yet both countries are capable of wiser conduct if their leaders can manage to rise above the dangerous temptations to beat military drums.
As China and Vietnam showed in settling their land and their Tonkin Gulf disputes, negotiation is the obvious and inevitable way out. Taiwan and Japan demonstrated this in their recent fisheries agreement over the Senkaku area. It did an end run around Beijing’s effort to monopolize “the Chinese side” of the situation, a brilliant move on Ma Ying-Jeou’s part that must have cost him dearly with Beijing even though it has been underappreciated at home and abroad. Island territorial disputes are harder to deal with, however.