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Some 57 percent of Japanese feel some kind of friendship toward China, according to the results of a telephone survey conducted by Kyodo News Service on Aug. 30 and 31.

But 42 percent replied that they feel no friendliness toward Japan’s Communist neighbor.

The poll was conducted prior to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s departure on an official visit to China on Sept. 4 to mark the 25th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Some 39 percent said they felt China will become a powerful economic rival to Japan in the future. The level rose to 81 percent when those who agreed with the statement to some extent were included.

Answering questions about China’s military strength, 46 percent said Beijing could become a military threat to Japan, in contrast to 18 percent who do not see China as a threat. Some 39 percent said the relationship between the two countries will develop favorably, while 14 percent disagreed and 46 percent said they do not know how bilateral relations will develop. Nearly 60 percent predicted that China’s political system will remain centered on the Chinese Communist Party but become more democratized.

Asked about whether the Taiwan Straits should be included in the Japan-U.S. defense guidelines — a sensitive issue in Japan-China relations — 31 percent responded that the straits should be included in the guidelines, while 21 percent said the region should not. Regarding Taiwanese independence, 46 percent said Taiwan should be independent from China, while 35 percent said it should retain its current status. Only 13 percent said Taiwan should be reunited with the mainland.

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