A new survey showed Friday that 60% of Taiwanese people consider Japan to be their favorite foreign country, the highest figure since such polling began in 2009.

According to the poll conducted by a research agency commissioned by Tokyo's de facto embassy in Taipei, Japan was by far the most favored country among Taiwanese, with China ranking second at 5% and the United States third at 4%.

Japan also topped the list of countries or regions that respondents think Taiwan should develop a close relationship with in the future at 46%, up 9 percentage points from the previous survey in 2018 to hit a record high.

In the same question, the U.S. was chosen by 24%, up 9 points, and China by 15%, down 16 points, amid tense cross-strait relations.

The U.S. overtook China as the country respondents saw as the most influential for Taiwan, with a record 58% choosing the U.S., up from 33% in 2018, compared with 25% picking China, down sharply from 45% in the previous survey.

A total of 13% picked Japan.

A record 70% of respondents said Taiwan-Japan relations are sound, while 77% said they felt an affinity for Japan, up from 70% in 2018.

The survey was conducted among a random sample of 1,068 Taiwanese adults age 20 to 80 by phone or online from Jan. 5 to 20.