There's an interesting Japanese news-and-discussion program on Saturdays called Yasuhiro Tase's Weekly News Report, where the important news stories of the day are discussed by some very smart commentators. Because the topics covered in the show are quite heavy and intellectual, they "soften" things in a uniquely Japanese way: by keeping a cat on the set and allowing the camera to follow what the cat is doing while various subjects are being debated. Last week was an interesting topic, one that concerns many Japanese: the ongoing territorial disputes with Russia over the four Kuril islands north of Hokkaido; with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands; and with South Korea over two useless rocks called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, which have become a major thorn in Japanese-Korean relations. Japanese are concerned that, as their status as an economic superpower wanes, their sovereign territory will be taken away by their more confrontational neighbors, and there'll be little Japan's weak government can do to stop it. (For example, a Chinese government official recently called on Japan to return Okinawa to its "proper" Chinese ownership.)
The territorial dispute with Korea came to a head when President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea made the first-ever visit by a Korean President to the islands on Friday, which set off a flurry of protests from Japan. That the trip just happened to come in the months before the Korean national elections was no coincidence: Korea and China are happy to make use of disputes with Japan to whip their voters into a ferver and deflect criticism of their own domestic policies. The rocks in question were first mapped by the French whaling ship Liancourt in 1849 (their international name is the Liancourt Rocks) and were officially claimed as Japanese territory in 1905, but when World War II ended the status of the rocks was not specifically decided by treaty, which has led to the current dispute (though the U.S. was clearly on the side of Japan during the Occupation, regarding the islands). On the Japan side of the argument, there are multiple European maps from the late 1800s which show the rocks as belonging to Japan (indicating that the world powers of the era considered the islands to be Japanese), a passage in a 1714 historical document in Korea that expressed concern that "Japanese territory" (the Liancourt Rocks) being so close to Korea's, and the fact that Korea doesn't seem to have ever named the islands in antiquity or mapped them clearly. On the Korean of the argument, there are documents that show that the government of Japan considered the islands as belonging to Korea from the 1870s, and the Korean government did make an official survey of the islands in 1900, five years before Japan's official annexation. The bottom line is that neither side has an iron-clad claim, and each only seemed to start caring about the islands when the other party showed interest, making the whole thing rather like two children fighting over a toy. The reality is that South Korea has had possession of the islands for 70+ years, and has made such a fuss about them that Japan will likely never get them back.
A hard-hitting news program starring a cat; Dunkin Donuts Korea knows what side their bread is buttered on.