A record 80.7 percent of Japanese “do not feel friendly” toward China, according to the government’s five-tier public opinion survey on foreign affairs.
The number is 0.1 point higher than the previous survey in November 2012 and the highest since the poll began in 1978.
The results, released Saturday by the Cabinet Office, reflect the tensions rising from the Senkaku Islands dispute and the two countries’ differing perceptions of wartime history.
The five-tier sentiment scale ranges from “feel friendly,” “somewhat friendly,” and “not very friendly” to “do not feel friendly” and “I don’t know.”
On the flip side, those who “feel friendly” toward China rose 0.1 point to 18.1 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 6.
Tensions between Tokyo and Beijing began soaring after the Japanese government bought three of the five main islets in the Senkaku group from their private Japanese owner in September last year.
China and Taiwan claim the islands as their own and call them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.
Asked about the current relationship between Japan and China, 6.8 percent said they perceive it as “somewhat good” or “good,” up 2 points, while 91 percent said ties are “not good” or “not particularly good,” down 1.8 points, the poll said.
As for South Korea, those in the “do not feel friendly” category fell 1 point to 58 percent, while those who “feel friendly” rose 1.5 points to 40.7 percent.
The results are similar to last year’s survey, when the ratio of those who had no friendly feelings toward a neighboring country exceeded the ratio for those who did. This was triggered when then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited one of the two disputed islets in August that Japan calls Takeshima and South Korea controls as Dokdo.
Those who perceived ties between Japan and the United States as “good” rose to a record high 83.8 percent, it said.
It also said that those who “feel friendly” toward the U.S. fell 1.4 points from last year’s record high but stayed nonetheless strong at 83.1 percent.
On North Korea, where multiple replies were allowed, 86.4 percent remained interested in the abduction issue, down 1.2 points, while interest in the North’s nuclear agenda jumped 10.9 points to 70 percent.
Those interested in Pyongyang’s missile issues jumped 11.2 points to 60.8 percent.
The survey covered 3,000 adults and drew responses from 61.6 percent.
Those who “feel friendly” toward Russia stood at 22.5 percent, up 3 points, while those who feel the same toward such Southeast Asian countries as Thailand and Indonesia climbed 2.5 points to 60.4 percent, also a record high.
The results apparently reflect the results of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s frantic diplomatic trips since being given a second chance in office last December.
Despite his foreign overtures, Abe continues to embrace Japan’s alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of his diplomacy.