China and Japan on Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic ties, but no major celebrations were likely with relations at historic lows over a simmering territorial row.
No major events were planned in Japan after China last week postponed a ceremony to commemorate four decades of diplomatic relations as tensions escalate over the uninhabited East China sea islands.
Asia's two largest economies have wrangled over the islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, since the 1970s, but the row flared in August after pro-China activists landed on one of them.
The Japanese government subsequently bought three of them from their private owners, triggering street protests across China and attacks on Japanese businesses operating in China.
"Japan and China must build good relationships for their people. It is their joint duty to the world," the Nikkei business daily said in an editorial.
The liberal Asahi Shimbun said "ignorance" and "unappreciation" about the regimes and culture of each other have contributed to deteriorating relations.
"We have no choice except to further increase people-to-people exchanges between officials and the private sector," the newspaper said.
Saturday's anniversary marks the signing of a joint communique in 1972 to "put an end to the abnormal state of affairs" following World War II.