Posted at 11:01 AM ET, 09/25/2012

5 weird examples of tensions over the Japanese/Chinese islands

It’s only seven square kilometers of uninhabited, rocky land, but China and Japan both see a series of remote islands lying between the two countries as symbols of national pride.

Ever since the Japanese government bought an uninhabited, disputed chain of islands in the East China Sea, the tension between Japan and China over the islands has played out in ever more bizarre ways. Here are five recent examples:

A giant water-gun fight:

More than 40 Taiwanese fishing boats traded water cannon fire with Japanese coast guard ships Tuesday after Taiwan for the first time ventured into the disputed waters. China has previously sent patrol ships to the island chain, which is called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diayo in China, saying they wanted to deal a blow to Japan’s “swagger.”

Fewer Japanese books:

Bookstores in Beijing are removing books by Japanese authors, the Guardian reports.

“The popular Wangfujing bookstore has pulled Chinese versions of Haruki Murakami's bestseller 1Q84, as well as other Japanese authors' titles, said the Japan Times. "We don't sell Japanese books," said a shop clerk, adding, “I don't know much about the reason, but perhaps it is because China-Japan relations are not good,” the Guardian writes.

A new aircraft carrier:

China entered its first aircraft carrier into service Tuesday, and although the ship won’t be ready for combat anytime soon, the move was in part meant as a show of national strength.

Writing in the China Daily newspaper, retired rear admiral Yang Yi hinted that the new vessel might make certain “forces” think twice about messing with China.

“When China has a more balanced and powerful navy, the regional situation will be more stable as various forces that threaten regional peace will no longer dare to act rashly,” Yang wrote.

Boycotting iPhones:

Mass protests and riots this month caused the closure of Japanese manufacturing plants in China, with Chinese demonstrators trashing Hondas and other Japanese-made cars.

But now, Chinese citizens are also taking their fury all the way to Cupertino, Calif.

After maps on the newly released iPhone5 listed the islands as part of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, hundreds of thousands of outraged users on China’s microblogging network Weibo called for iPhone boycotts, the Atlantic reported. Chinese netizens apparently feel the map listing reveals America’s true stance on the islands issue, even though the U.S. has so far attempted to remain neutral.

Pan Xinyi De Weibo wrote, “It is the United States supporting Japan from behind that Japan dares to buy the Diaoyu islands,” according to the Atlantic.

Cancelled vacations:

Japanese airline JAL plans to cut six flights a day between China and Japan in October after 15,000 people have canceled their flights, the AP reports.

Some China-based travel agencies are canceling group tours to Japan, The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan reported, and “cultural events in both countries designed to mark the 40th anniversary of China-Japan diplomatic ties have been called off,” he wrote.

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By  |  11:01 AM ET, 09/25/2012

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