On Thursday China staged a massive military parade and ceremony in Beijing to celebrate its “victory” in the war against Japan in the 1930s and 40s.
It was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda campaign to portray Japan as a villain, thereby boosting its status both at home and abroad, experts say.
Yet the general sentiment of people in the Asia-Pacific region indicates China may be losing its propaganda war against Japan.
According to the latest survey published Wednesday by Washington-based Pew Research Center, Japan is viewed most favorably by people in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan itself, with a median of 71 percent having a favorable view of the country. Positive views exceeded negative views by more than five to one.
The same survey showed that a median of 57 percent of those polled, excluding China, saw China favorably, with 33 percent holding a contrary view.
In Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia, more than 80 percent viewed Japan favorably, with the figure at 71 percent in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, only 25 percent in South Korea and 12 percent in China had positive views of Japan, apparently reflecting historical tensions and recent territorial disputes, the nonpartisan research center said.
Some 53 percent of Chinese had a “very unfavorable” assessment of Japan, according to the survey.
The research is based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with 15,313 adults in 10 Asia-Pacific nations — Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, India and Pakistan — as well as the United States. The interviews were conducted from April 6 to May 27.
“Overall, despite historical and territorial frictions, Asia-Pacific publics tend to view their regional neighbors in a positive light, with Japan judged most favorably,” wrote Bruce Stokes, director at Pew Research Center, in an article posted on its website on Wednesday.
“Japan enjoys a relatively positive image, except in China and South Korea,” he wrote.
The same survey also indicates that many Japanese people have negative views of China and South Korea. Some 49 percent said they had “very unfavorable” views of China, and 32 percent had similarly negative views of South Korea.
Positive views of South Korea in Japan fell sharply from 57 percent in 2008 to only 21 percent this year, according to the survey.
The research also addressed the popularity of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The two leaders appear to be in a neck-and-neck race. Excluding Japanese, a median of 43 percent said they had confidence in Abe “to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” while 19 percent said they did not.
Asked the same question about Xi, a median of 47 percent, excluding Chinese, said they had confidence in the Chinese president, while 29 percent said otherwise.
In China, 18 percent professed confidence in Abe, while only 7 percent in South Korea agreed.
The sentiment of distrust is echoed in Japan, where 12 percent said they had confidence in Xi. The survey did not ask the same question about South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
A summary and the full text of the report, titled How Asia-Pacific Publics See Each Other and Their National Leaders, can be found at jtim.es/RMqBT.