Apparently, South Koreans like Japan as much as they like North Korea, which is really not that much. This is if one bases it on this recent survey by Research and Research – primarily a market information company in South Korea – and commissioned by the Asian Institute for Policy Studies. The survey asked citizens of South Korea to quantify their attitudes towards neighbors including China, Japan and North Korea as well as their North American ally the United States during the month of December. It turns out that South Korean affections for Japan have soured so much that the survey results pointed to a very slim margin between their feelings of animosity toward their northern neighbor and Tokyo.
Japan scored just 2.57 points on a scale from zero to 10, just a few fractional points ahead of North Korea‘s 2.37 points. The scale measures the South Korean’s positive affection towards their neighboring countries – 10 being the highest. This downturn of warm feelings towards Japan is attributed mostly to the Japanese government’s perceived leaning towards the extreme right these days – led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Since the beginning of 2013, this score has generally been on the decline. This year, South Koreans took offense with Japan’s renewed claims to the Korea-controlled Dokdo islets, which Tokyo calls the Takeshima Islands. There was also a lot of fuss brought about by visits of Japanese politicians to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead – including war criminals from World War II. Finally, there has also been a lot of what South Koreans deem as insensitive remarks glossing over Japan’s wartime atrocities. All of these things have pointed to a huge proportion of South Koreans seeing Japan as a rival rather than a partner – 66.2 percent this month. Only 22.2 percent of South Koreans see Japan as a partner.
Apparently though, this feeling of animosity is quite mutual. A survey in Japan made by two news organizations showed that around 70% of Japanese people do not trust South Korea. Respondents to these surveys say that South Korea cannot be trusted as a “diplomatic and economic partner”. South Korea feels better about the United States, a common ally of both countries – scoring 5.4 points on the South Korean affection scale. Surprisingly (or not), South Koreans say they like China better than Japan, with Beijing having 4.37 points on the South Korean “neighborly love” survey.