An international bunch in the capital were quizzed about possible ways to bridge the huge divide between Japan and its East Asian neighbors over historical issues. Despite speaking to a number of Chinese and South Koreans, no one was prepared to have their picture published and most did not want to divulge their names.

Leanne L., 23
Local government worker (English)
Japan and all the other nations here in Northeast Asia really need to focus on open and honest communication. Too many of the problems we see popping up could be avoided by dialogue and just listening to what the “other side” has to say, rather than simply slipping into defensive mode every time the neighbors have a different take on a particular issue.

Reiko Ninomiya, 35
English lecturer (Japanese)
In my opinion, Japan and other countries should never stop communicating with each other. Whilst this may seem a simple solution, sometimes simple is best. As such, we really should continually try to understand the values we all share and those that separate us in this part of the world. By doing so, hopefully advances can be made all round.

Justin Sears, 56
Global business skills trainer (Australian)
Forget governments, politics and mainstream media propaganda. People in all countries need to connect on a personal level. My experience, having spent extensive time in all three countries, has been we all simply want and need the same thing: peace. Go out there, get educated, exchange ideas and promote this ideal as best we can. It is achievable.

Yayoi Sugisaki, 45
Visual media translator (Japanese)
The most important thing is to help improve the economic stability of neighboring nations at both governmental and private-sector levels. Also, providing technical support would increase interaction between the countries and lead to better communication and understanding. There are many other ways in which we can improve relations, but I believe the direction should be clear.

Yuan Cheung, 27
Student/part-timer (Chinese)
As long as Japan refuses to properly atone for its actions in the past, there will never be a chance to properly get closer to China. The same applies with Korea too, both North and South. And, even if there were, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe keeps moving further to the right, with one result being that any efforts by regular Japanese are annually canceled out by his worshipping of war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

Su Young Lee, 30s
Publisher (South Korean)
It’s almost unrealistic to expect a sincere apology from Japan regarding historical issues, but I think Japan needs to play it smart if it doesn’t want to end up isolated in the rapidly growing Asian market. Creating mutual cultural events or travel packages would offer a good chance for Japan, South Korea and China to understand each other’s cultures. The more these countries cooperate, the less chance they will fight over silly little things.

• Interested in collecting vox pops in your local area? Email community@japantimes.co.jp.

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