National / Politics

Japanese interest in Senkaku and Takeshima disputes waning, surveys show

JIJI

Japanese citizens have grown less interested in two groups of islets at the heart of territorial disputes with China and South Korea, summer surveys conducted by the Cabinet Office show.

The surveys covered the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, as well as Takeshima, a pair of rocky outcroppings in the Sea of Japan that are held by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo. South Korea calls Takeshima Dokdo.

According to the survey results, released Friday, 62.2 percent of respondents showed interest in the Senkakus, down 12.3 points from the most recent poll in 2014, and 59.3 percent reported interest in Takeshima, down 7.6 points.

The reason most cited by respondents for not being interested was that the issues related to the islets didn’t have much effect on their daily lives, the surveys said.

Separate polls about the two areas were conducted to get views from 3,000 Japanese 18 or older. These drew valid responses from 59 percent of the total on the Senkakus and 59.7 percent of the total asked about Takeshima.

Asked whether they knew about the Senkaku Islands, 91.3 percent said yes, down one point. Regarding exactly what they knew, about 70 percent said they were aware that Chinese ships were entering waters around the islands and that Tokyo was protesting such moves, both down about 9 percentage points.

“It’s a big problem if people become used to Chinese intrusions because they occur too frequently,” said an official in the Cabinet Secretariat’s Office of Policy Planning and Coordination on Territory and Sovereignty.

The official said the government will make extra efforts to direct public attention to issues related to the islands.

The interview-based surveys first began in 2013.

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