In 2010, China decisively overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy. While this shift had been long in the making — China was already ahead using a number of standard indicators — the downgrade to number three was an important symbolic moment for Japan, reflecting changing dynamics of political influence as well as financial and industrial clout. Since the end of the Pacific War, Japan had been the most important nation in Asia, and the primary ally of the United States. In the wake of the spectacular 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China had claimed a front row seat on the international stage — rather as had Japan in 1964, and South Korea in 1988.
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