Survey finds pessimism in ties with Japan

Updated: 2014-09-10 07:40

By Zhang Yunbi in Beijing and Cai Hong in Tokyo(China Daily)

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Survey finds pessimism in ties with Japan



A. Improved significantly;B. Improved relatively;C. No change; D. Deteriorated relatively; E. Deteriorated significantly; F. No answer or unclear

In China, the Diaoyu Islands dispute topped the list when Chinese respondents were asked what first came to mind regarding the bilateral relationship - 46.6 percent of those polled thought about the dispute.

In Japan, air pollution topped the list for the first time. The environmental concern was first on the minds of Japanese respondents at 41.2 percent of those polled, surpassing the idea of Chinese cuisine. The dispute over the islands ranked third for them.

Yasushi Kudo, president of Genron NPO, said: "The ups and downs of bilateral relations in the past decade have swayed the two peoples' feelings (toward each other's nation). The ties should be lifted out of confrontation.

"Efforts should be made for dialogue and communication in a healthy way," Kudo said. "It is important that both Chinese and Japanese people have realized the lack of communication and trust between the two governments."

"The opinion polls, which have been conducted consecutively for 10 years, mirror the will of the two peoples and serve as an important channel to understand each other," said Zhu Baoxia, secretary-general of China Daily, at the press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Chance to thaw ties

In terms of the future of the relationship at the official level, 36.8 percent of the Japanese respondents said it will continue to deteriorate, and only 8 percent said ties will improve. The Chinese respondents had similar views.

Still, tapping public diplomacy to repair relations continued to attract support from both sides.

The contribution of people-to-people interactions to improving ties was endorsed by 64.4 percent of the Japanese public and 63.4 percent of its Chinese counterpart.

Survey finds pessimism in ties with Japan

Among the Japanese public who supported public diplomacy, 70.7 percent of them believed that "mutual understanding between the two peoples will be deepened through exchanges", compared with 66.2 percent last year.

Similarly, 56.7 percent of those in China who supported public diplomacy believed that people-to-people interactions "expand the foundation for the shared interests of both nations".

Professor Akio Takahara of Tokyo University also saw a slight improvement in Chinese people's feelings about Japan.

"A large number of Chinese tourists have visited Japan recently and might return home with a good impression of Japan," Takahara said.

The number of Chinese mainland travelers to Japan for the first half of this year witnessed a year-on-year increase of 88.2 percent to hit more than 1 million people, figures from the Japan National Tourism Organization showed.

In another hopeful sign for deepening mutual understanding, the latest China Daily-Genron NPO poll showed that an increasing number of Chinese intellectuals and members of the public were diversifying their knowledge of their Japanese neighbors through the media.

Survey finds pessimism in ties with Japan

Last year, 14.3 percent of Chinese respondents obtained information regarding Japan directly from Japanese media last year. The figure this year rose to 23.7 percent.

When it came to Chinese intellectuals, including university faculty and students, 21.4 percent of them accessed Japan-related information directly from Japanese media.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, said strategic and security issues between the two neighbors will continue but tensions will ease.

"But the improvement requires appropriate timing and basic conditions. The islands dispute does not represent the full picture of the China-Japan relationship," Shi said.

The likelihood of getting the relationship back on track remains, he said.

Li Wei, the CASS director, suggested that there was a "shared pursuit between China and Japan - they are both seeking a peaceful rise and not expecting a war".

"They both seek security in the Asia-Pacific region and hope to resolve problems in the neighborhood through dialogues within the existing frameworks. That is where the breakthrough may be," Li said.

Li also said that the historical and territorial issues are unlikely to be resolved overnight because they are intertwined with each other. These major issues are also not on their wish list when the two sides seek breakthroughs in ties, so efforts to do so should start from less-controversial concerns, Li said.

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