Record 81% of Japanese feel no friendship toward China, government survey shows

JIJI

More than 80 percent of Japanese harbor no sense of friendship toward China, an annual survey by the Cabinet Office revealed Saturday.

Some 80.6 percent of respondents said they have no friendly feelings toward the country, a rise of 9.2 points from the previous year and the highest level on record since the inaugural survey was conducted in 1978, the Cabinet Office announced.

The previous record of 77.8 percent who expressed anti-Chinese sentiment was set in 2010, after a Chinese trawler rammed two coast guard cutters trying to shoo it out of Japanese territorial waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu as they are called by Beijing.

Meanwhile, the number of respondents who voiced friendly feelings toward China slumped 8.3 points to just 18 percent, according to the Cabinet Office.

The findings reflect the heightened tensions between the two countries following Japan’s nationalization Sept. 11 of three of the five Senkaku islets, whose sovereignty is fiercely contested by Beijing, in the East China Sea, a Foreign Ministry official noted.

The survey also showed that the number of people who do not feel bilateral relations with China are proceeding smoothly jumped to an all-time high 92.8 percent, up 16.5 points from the last survey. Only 4.8 percent felt the Sino-Japanese relationship is in a healthy state, a year-on-year plunge of some 14 points.

Meanwhile, the poll also revealed that 59 percent of respondents do not view South Korea in a friendly manner, a steep jump of 23.7 points from last year, while those who voiced positive sentiment plummeted 23 points to 39.2 percent, dropping below 40 percent for the first time in 15 years.

The results were mainly attributed to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s unprecedented visit Aug. 10 to the Takeshima Islands in the Sea of Japan. The barren outcroppings fall under the jurisdiction of Seoul, which calls them Dokdo, but Tokyo has long claimed them as part of Shimane Prefecture.

In contrast, the proportion of people who view the United States as a friend of Japan rose 2.5 points to 84.5 percent. Those who feel negatively toward the U.S. declined 1.8 points to 13.7 percent.

The Cabinet Office conducted the survey from Sept. 27 to Oct. 7, canvassing 3,000 adults nationwide. Valid responses were received from 61.3 percent of those polled.