The majority of the public is unaware of what Japan’s official position is on the Senkaku Islands — the center of a major territorial dispute with China, a government survey says.
Japan’s position is no territorial dispute exists.
Japan took control of the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea in 1895, but since the 1970s they have also been claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known as the Diaoyu and the Tiaoyutai, respectively.
According to the state’s first opinion poll on the issue, released Thursday, 91.1 percent of the respondents said they know about the islets and 7.7 percent said they were unaware of them.
Of those who know, only 48.0 percent said they also know the government effectively controls the territory and does not recognize any dispute.
“The historical background of the islands is not known widely enough,” a government official said, stressing the importance of boosting efforts to increase the awareness of the government’s position.
Of those with knowledge of the islets, 75.0 percent said they know the Chinese government is sending ships to waters near them and that these ships are repeatedly intruding into Japanese waters there.
The proportion was 74.5 percent for those who know Japan is protesting the intrusions, and 65.7 percent for those who know the islets are under the jurisdiction of Ishigaki, Okinawa.
Of all the respondents, 73.7 percent said they are interested or somewhat interested in the Senkaku issue. Those who don’t care came to 24.9 percent.
The July 11-21 survey involved interviews with some 1,800 adults nationwide.