"Japan mustn't be shepherded by politicians such as Ishihara," thundered the English-language version of the Global Times. "Rationality must come back to Japanese politics, otherwise confrontation in Asia will spiral out of control."
"Rationality," from the Chinese government's perspective, would mean accepting its claim to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Japan annexed the atoll in 1895; the United States occupied it in 1945 and returned it to Japan in 1971. Beijing's claim is based on the uninhabited islands appearing on Chinese maps for centuries before that. Actually, neither side had much interest in the islets until 1969, when United Nations surveyors determined there were potentially large oil and gas deposits in seabed near the archipelago.
The nationalist one-upmanship began in the 1970s, a good deal of it involving animals. Fishermen on each side learned they could earn national acclaim by trawling in the disputed waters. This summer, Ishihara proposed that the offspring of two giant pandas on loan from China to Tokyo's Ueno Zoo be named either "Sen Sen" or "Kaku Kaku" (the panda cub died a week after its birth in July, before anyone could name it).
In the late 1970s, a group of Japanese right-wingers marooned a pair of goats on one of the bigger islets. "I think they hoped some people would move there, as goat is the favorite meat of the local people in Okinawa," Hiroyuki explained. But so far, no humans have decided to follow the free food, he sighed. "I am told that today, in the islands, there are about 1,000 goats living there."
Those goats are about to become residents of greater Tokyo, waiting -- like everyone else -- to see what their impulsive governor does next.