National

More Chinese have negative view on Japan-China relations, survey finds

Kyodo

More Chinese have a negative view of relations with Japan amid territorial disputes in the East and South China seas, an annual survey showed Friday.

The percentage of Chinese respondents who said the bilateral situation is “bad” or “relatively bad” rose to 78.2 percent from 67.2 percent last year, according to a poll conducted by the Japanese nonprofit organization Genron NPO and the China International Publishing Group.

The survey, covering 1,000 people in Japan and 1,587 in China ages 18 or older, found the percentage of Japanese who see the nations’ relations negatively was unchanged at 71.9 percent.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have held talks every year since 2014, but Tokyo and Beijing remain at odds over the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.

The survey was conducted in August and early September after the international tribunal at The Hague ruled in July that China’s claims to historical rights in almost the whole of the South China Sea have no legal basis.

As China has beefed up its efforts to build military facilities in the sea, Japan has demanded China respect the rule of law in settling the disputes with other claimants such as the Philippines.

Last month, China sent a record number of government ships and fishing boats near the Senkakus, with some repeatedly entering Japanese waters.

Genron NPO President Yasushi Kudo attributed the results to the tendency of both Japanese and Chinese to rely on the media as a major source of information about each other. He added that Chinese people’s reliance on the media is “extremely high.”

“There’s no doubt that these news reports (about the East and South China seas) had an impact on the survey,” Kudo said at a news conference in Tokyo.

A series of such news reports helped raise the percentage of Japanese respondents who said they have an unfavorable impression of China to 91.6 percent from 88.8 percent.

Answering multiple-choice questions, 64.6 percent of Japanese respondents cited tensions over the Senkakus as a major reason for their unfavorable view and 51.3 percent picked China’s “hegemonic” actions. Both figures are up around 20 percentage points from the previous survey.

However, the number of Chinese respondents who have visited Japan rose to 13.5 percent from 7.9 percent last year and 1.3 percent in 2005, when the survey started.

Among those respondents, 58.8 percent said they have a positive impression of Japan, and 32.2 percent said relations are good, according to Kudo.

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