HONG KONG — If there is a rainbow behind the dark clouds currently blanketing Japan — the country's gravest crisis since World War II — it could be this: Relations with China, which were at their worst in decades last year, are taking a turn for the better.

The Chinese government was quick to offer its sympathy and support, and the vast majority of the Chinese public endorsed this, despite predominantly negative sentiments about Japan reflected in previous public opinion surveys.

A poll taken last year showed 79 percent of Chinese feeling that Japan cannot be trusted. However, an online survey conducted after the earthquake showed that 1.2 million of 1.5 million respondents backed their government's efforts to aid Japan.