A new front has been opened up in what has become the Sino-Japanese Cold War. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and the current favorite to regain the post of prime minister in the next elections together with 130 other Japanese parliamentarians, hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.. Abe spoke of the Japanese desire to help the Tibetan people and create a Tibet where protesters don't have to burn themselves to death to obtain freedom.
The thrust behind the invitation is clear. China continues to chastise Japan for the atrocities that it committed during its occupation of China 70 years ago, when it is China that is currently guilty of the brutal occupation of Tibet.
Abe has been consistent in taking positions that are inimical to China.
He made a point of visiting the military cemetery that is also the resting place of Japanese leaders executed for war crimes committed during the Second World War.
He advocates building on the Senkaku Islands in dispute with China.
The timing of the Dalai Lama's visit was also not fortuitous; it came smack in the middle of the Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress in Beijing and the leadership transition.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry protested formally against the remarks by Japanese "rightists" who were giving aid and comfort to anti-Chinese separatism and were interfering in China's internal affairs. China also accused the Dalai Lama of organizing the self-immolations by the protesters and conducting politics under the cloak of religion.
This most recent spat demonstrated the abyss to which Sino-Japanese relations have sunk. Japanese voters have previously tended to reward politicians and governments who keep relations with China on an even keel. The anti-Chinese backlash in Japan has reversed this logic and there are currently at least three parties trolling for votes by taking a harsh stance towards China.