It’s not ancient history, but modern-day politics that is behind the crisis over five tiny islands in the East China Sea. China has long disputed Japan’s control of the Diaoyu islands (called Senkaku by Japan), which dates back to a postwar treaty. But it was a provocative plan by Tokyo’s hawkish regional governor to take over the islands that forced Japan’s central government to buy them last week in an effort to keep them out of controversy. Too late. And with China’s leadership in transition, it’s become politically useful for factions within China to stoke anti-Japanese protests. Oh, and Taiwan says the islands belong to them as well.