Japan’s state secretary of defense, Yasuhide Nakayama, was much criticized last week after he posted on his Twitter feed that “Our hearts are with Israel” amid the violence in Gaza and the West Bank, with the Tokyo-based media reporting a group of “around 100 demonstrators gathered to protest” outside the Defense Ministry.

As a former Japanese diplomat who was involved in the U.S.-led peace process in the early 1990s, the episode felt surreal — like something out of “Alice in Wonderland.” Thirty years ago, no politician at the ministerial level would have publicly expressed sympathy for Israel; and if he or she had done so, thousands of protesters — not just hundreds — would have marched.

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