A joint survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Korea Times show that both Japanese and South Koreans think that the state of relations between the two countries have grown “bad”. 71% of the Japanese surveyed felt that way while 78% from the Korean side also think bilateral relations have worsened. Both numbers were up from the previous survey in 2011.
The telephone poll was conducted on March 22-24, after both countries were officially under new administrations, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returning to his previously held office and new South Korean President Park Geun Hye was sworn into office in February. Japanese numbers were up 27% while the Korean response increased 64% from the previous survey. Analysts say this is probably because of the visit of then South Korean President Lee Myung Bak to the disputed Takeshima/Dokdo islets, the first South Korean president to do so. This incident quickly escalated tensions between the two countries, with the Japanese believing this was an outright attack against Japan’s claims to the islets.
When asked whether the other country is trustworthy, unsurprisingly, 55% of Japanese respondents said “not very” or “not at all”, up 37%, while 80% from the Korean side had a negative opinion on Japan’s integrity. Asked about President Lee’s visit to Takeshima/Dokdo, 86% of the Japanese consider it “inappropriate” while 67% of the Koreans said it was “appropriate”.
The survey also asked which bilateral issue should be prioritized by both governments, both sets of respondents chose the territorial dispute as their number one answer, 68% for Japan and 72% for South Korea. PM Abe’s effect on bilateral relations was another topic in the survey and for the Japanese, 52% answered “neither positive nor negative” and only 30% answered positively. The Koreans had a high negative response to Abe’s effect on the bilateral issues at 62%, probably because of his image as a right-wing hawkish politician. When it came to President Park’s administration, “neither positive nor negative” was the biggest portion of the answers for both countries, 48% for Japan and 46% for South Korea.
[ via Asia News Network ]