A research group in China recently conducted a survey that found the negative opinion of Japan held by the Chinese public is rapidly growing. Whereas the figure stood at 65.9% in 2011, those with negative feelings towards Japan have now risen to 87%, according the analysts at China’s Horizon Research Consultancy Group. This follows shortly after a poll in Japan that found similar results, with China and South Korea being the top two nations the Japanese public felt no friendly relations with.
The analysts warn that these figures could continue to rise if communications between the two Asian superpowers don’t improve soon. Japanese studies professor Yang Bojiang, of Beijing’s University of International Relations, comments that the reason for the worsening opinion among Chinese is because of the perception of Japan’s growing right-wing political agenda, more specifically the re-election of Shinzo Abe to prime minister. Abe recent insistence to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many in Asia as a memorial to Japan’s past wartime aggressions, in combination with what the Chinese government labels the “illegal purchase” of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, has many Chinese asking if its neighbor will continue to threaten stability with a conservative, closed attitude.
Professor Yang adds that only more communication can salvage the relations between China and Japan, with both countries trying to end their misunderstandings. The survey polled 3,091 people between the ages of 18 and 65 from 10 of China’s main cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Interestingly it was found that Russia was seen as being the most friendly to China, chosen by 30.5% of respondents.
It’s also worth mentioning that the key here is the Chinese public’s perception of Japan’s political agenda. Surely China’s government-controlled media, known for its excellent job of filtering incoming and outgoing information, has played a part in forming that perception. While it’s certainly true that Prime Minister Abe has nationalistic leanings, and visits to the Yasukuni Shrine are often seen as offensive to Asian neighbors, there is no doubt that the Chinese government has over-emphasized certain aspects while leaving others out entirely.[via China Daily]