The virus has killed more than 2,100 people and infected more than 74,500 in China since it first emerged late last year.
The current goodwill between the East Asian neighbors is a far cry from the diplomatic spats that have characterized their relationship in recent decades, from maritime disputes to lingering anger over victims of Japanese wartime sexual slavery.
Japan invaded China in the 1930s and the two countries fought a full-scale war from 1937 until Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945.
China sees Japanese politicians’ periodic visits to Tokyo’s Yasukuni war shrine honouring convicted war criminals as a sign of aggression.
But now, “in such hard times and particularly because of the attacks and criticisms (from other countries), the Chinese government and people are just grateful for such show of support,” said Victor Teo, an assistant professor of Japanese studies at the University of Hong Kong.
At the same time, “it is definitely in Japan’s national interest that the health threat remains contained, too,” Teo told AFP.
“Japan is extremely vulnerable because of her intense people-to-people and economic exchanges with China.”
While the United States and several other countries have banned travelers from China, Japan has only prevented arrivals of people from two of the Chinese provinces hardest hit by the epidemic.
Donations and shows of support from Japanese businesses are “natural” not just for humanitarian reasons, “but also for economic reasons,” Satoshi Amako, China expert at Waseda University, said.
“It’s become clear that if the Chinese economy is hurt, the Japanese economy receives an impact from it and vice versa.”