Yes I agree with this. I too felt missed opportunities on both sides. Maybe if both countries handled things differently.I am talking about earlier than when the diaoyu isIands dispute flared up.This reminded me of the time when Yukio Hatoyama was PM of Japan from 2009 to 2010. Under his tenure, Japan was more East-oriented. Relations with China and South Korea was warming. It almost looked like for a time, like Japan could at least go on a different path. But unfortunately, his tenure didn't last long. He resigned after threats of a no-confidence vote due to some economic performance expectation issue. Successive PMs after him were hit and miss and they too didn't last long. Until Abe became PM.
Things between China and Japan was going relatively ok until the 2012 Diaoyu Islands dispute. What Japan did was absolutely wrong. But the reaction in China with their intense anti-Japanese protest progressing to rioting was in my opinion not good. If you disagree, just observe your horror and anger at the other anti-China protest-riots in Vietnam, and Myanmar. Its probably what the Japanese public had felt when they saw footages of that protest-riot in China. Additionally, that protest gave much ammunition to the Western and Japanese right-wing media to fear monger about China. Since by that time, Abe was the PM, this was the perfect propaganda coup he needed. Then the rest is history.
In this regard with China-Japan relations. I do feel that China at that time had to take some of the blame for failing to reign in the extremes of Chinese nationalism. Fortunately, China has since then managed to keep its own extreme nationalists in check. We don't see anymore of those crazy hate-filled protest-riots like back in 2012 despite the intense Cold War-like atmosphere of today.
But the past is the past. That opportunity for rapprochement between China and Japan between 2009-2012 was missed. It was mainly Japan's fault. But both sides were not entirely innocent. So now, Japan is as belligerent as ever. Their leaders, fully submitted to the US. The best way now for China to deal with Japan is to build up overwhelming military might to safeguard its economic development. Time is on China's side. Eventually, Japan will have to learn that its place truly belongs in Asia, not in the West. Hopefully they don't choose to learn it the hard way.
I rcall it was during the Japanese history textbooks white washing issue and subsequent protests in china. I remember reading a poster in China history forum whom I respected take on this.
That maybe if both countries handled nationalism better. And if you think about it maybe preceding this event too when the potential for Japan and china alliance was not so far fetched.
Before the incident relations seem to be going along fairly well with few bumps. Then the textbooks incident occurred. Chinese was understandably angered by japans attitude towards war crime atrocities on China and attempt to deny them. But Japanese became alarmed and horrified when they saw violence and anti Japan sentiment on TV screens even in shanghai which they thought was the least anti Japan city in China.
The poster mentioned how if both countries looked at the bigger picture relationship would have blossomed to something they would benefit both countries immensely. Economically they complement each other almost perfectly at that time. China needed Japan tecjmh and know how. Japan needed chinas huge market and labour. Politically China could have helped Japan become a normal country, instead of one still weighed down by historical baggage and distrustful neighbours. Plus Japan could have stopped being a US puppet and siding with China and later SK, increase the political and economic clout of East Asia to rival US and Europe.
Alas its not to be. We are still where we are right now. Japan still under US control and actively undermining china. Wat could have been.