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Poll shows strains in China-Japan-S korea ties

By Zhang Yunbi and Zhou Wa (China Daily)

08:50, November 26, 2012

Survey: Japanese feelings toward China, South Korea at all-time low

A recent poll showed that the majority of the Japanese public are not looking favorably on their neighbors China and South Korea amid Japan's political turmoil and deadlocked diplomacy.

Experts warn there may be greater damage to people-to-people ties between the neighbors, as Japan's mid-December general election may further fan the flames of nationalism.

According to the Japanese Cabinet Office's annual survey, 80.6 percent of the surveyed said they feel no friendship for China, an increase of 9.2 percentage points compared with last year, Japan's Jiji Press News Agency said.

Tokyo Broadcasting System said the number marks a record high since the survey started in 1978, while those who said they feel friendship toward China constituted only 18 percent, a year-on-year drop of 8.3 percentage points.

And 59 percent of the Japanese public expressed no friendly feelings toward South Korea, a 23.7 percentage points year-on-year rise. Japan's territorial dispute with South Korea escalated after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's August visit to the disputed island, which Seoul calls Dokdo and Tokyo calls Takeshima.

This year's official poll, questioning 1,800 interviewees over 20 years old, started in September, when the Japanese government illegally "purchased" the Diaoyu Islands, a move that prompted a series of protests and countermeasures from China.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry blamed China and South Korea for the absence of friendly feelings, yet Japan has come to a diplomatic deadlock this year with its neighbors, including China and South Korea, over territorial disputes.

"Given the explanation of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Tokyo is actually aiming at shifting the responsibility to others," said Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University.

The survey results show that Japanese public opinion is highly susceptible to political influences, and the mutual trust between the countries remains fragile, Zhou said.

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