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Chinese people’s impression of Japan worsened this year for the first time in eight years, a joint survey conducted in Japan and China showed Wednesday.

The survey showed that 66.1% of Chinese people have a negative impression of Japan, up 13.2 percentage points from last year’s survey.

This marked the first increase since 2013, a year after Japan nationalized the Senkaku Islands, an island chain in the East China Sea claimed by China.

The survey was conducted by Genron NPO, a Japanese nonprofit think tank, and China International Publishing Group between August and September.

On reasons for having a negative impression of Japan, 77.5% cited “a lack of apologies and remorse over a history of invasion” and 58.7% named “the dispute over the Senkaku Islands.” These were the top two reasons as in the previous survey.

The share of those who pointed to “inappropriate behavior by some politicians” came to 21%, up 8.7 points from the previous year.

Visits by some Japanese politicians to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine likely inflamed public sentiment in China, said Genron NPO chief Yasushi Kudo. The shrine is regarded by Japan’s neighbors as a symbol of its past militarism.

The survey showed that 90.9% of Japanese people had a negative impression of China, up 1.2 points, while 9% had a good impression, down 1.0 point.

About 60% to 70% of both Japanese and Chinese people recognized the two countries’ relations as important.

“There are no diplomatic efforts between the two governments despite growing security concerns amid U.S.-China tensions, leaving anxieties felt by Japanese and Chinese people unaddressed,” Kudo said.

He also pointed to a decrease in direct exchanges between Japanese and Chinese people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey received responses from 1,000 Japanese people and 1,547 Chinese people age 18 or older.

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