• Kyodo

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More than half the people in Japan and China are pessimistic that ties between the two countries can be improved in the near future, according to a joint opinion poll by Japanese and Chinese organizations.

Seventy-three percent of Japan’s general respondents and 73.6 percent of its intellectual and business communities either think relations will deteriorate further or are unsure how they will develop, according to the poll conducted by Japanese think tank Genron NPO, the China Daily and Peking University.

In China, 56.1 percent of the general public and 81 percent of university students had similar opinions about bilateral relations, according to the survey.

The poll was conducted in four parts.

In Japan, 1,000 responses were obtained from a survey of people over 18 in 50 locations, and 344 responses were collected from experts, including businesspeople and public servants, in a separate survey. Both surveys were conducted in July.

In China, 1,938 nonstudents in six cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, were surveyed. Separately, 1,148 students from five universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University, were polled.

As for the state of bilateral ties, 74 percent of the Japanese public and 84.9 percent of the intellectuals and experts said they were either “not very good” or “not good at all.”

Those who had similar opinions in China reached 54.9 percent of the general public and 79 percent of the students.

While the two sides shared the view that bilateral relations remain chilly, they differed over who was to blame.

About 90 percent of both China’s general public and university students said the blame for strained ties rests with Japan. In Japan, about half the intellectuals and the general public said neither side is solely responsible.

Relations between Japan and China deteriorated sharply earlier this year, particularly when violent anti-Japanese rallies were held in various Chinese cities by demonstrators protesting the way Japan remembers and teaches about its militarist past.

A major thorn in bilateral relations is Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which 69.9 percent of the Chinese general public either opposed or deemed inappropriate.

Seventy-four percent of the Chinese students said Japanese politicians “should deal with the matter in a way that gives consideration for Chinese people’s feelings” or they should not pay visits to the shrine under any circumstances.

China has repeatedly denounced Koizumi’s visits to the shrine, which honors 14 Class-A war criminals along with Japan’s 2.47 million war dead.

In Japan, 32.1 percent of the public and 17.6 percent of its experts said the visits are an internal Japanese matter and that Koizumi should continue them if he so desires.

Just 7 percent of the experts said Koizumi should not visit the shrine.

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