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China-Japan ties important, but not satisfactory: survey

Publication Date : 20-06-2012


People from both China and Japan are not satisfied with the current conditions of bilateral relations, with a territory dispute remaining the biggest obstacle, a recent survey has found.

The 8th Public Opinion on China-Japan Relations 2012 survey, sponsored by China Daily and the Japanese non-profit think tank Genron NPO, shows the majority of people in the two nations think highly of Sino-Japanese relations and believe economic growth can be mutually beneficial.

In China, 1,627 citizens in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xi'an and 1,003 students and teachers in Peking University, Tsinghua University, People’s University of China, University of International Relations, and China Foreign Affairs University were polled. In Japan, 1,600 people, of whom 600 were intellectuals, responded to the survey.

This year’s poll shows 78.4 per cent of the general public and 87.9 per cent of university teachers and students in China think bilateral ties are "very "or "quite" important. This opinion is shared by 80. 3 per cent of the general public and 97.2 per cent of intellectuals on the Japanese side.

Despite the consensus to cement relations, a string of incidents, including border issues, seem to have cast a shadow over bilateral ties. In China, 42.9 per cent of the general public believe current Sino Japan ties are “very good” or “quite good” - a decline of 11.6 per cent over last year, and whereas only 7.4 per cent of the Japanese public respondents share the same opinion, falling 8.8 per cent from 2011.

Over 31 per cent of Chinese have a favourable impression of Japan, an increase of 3 per cent over last year, but the percentage of Japanese favouring China dropped from 20.8 per cent in 2011 to 15.6 per cent this year. However, among students, teachers in China and intellectuals in Japan, the appreciation of each other has seen slight gains in comparison with last year. The percentage of intellectuals in Japan favouring China rises from 43.1 per cent in 2011 to 49.5 per cent.

About 51.4 per cent of the public and 69.7 per cent of students and teachers in China, and 69.6 per cent of the public and 52.2 per cent of the intellectuals in Japan, agree the primary obstacle hindering Sino Japanese relations is the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands.

When asked what is the first thing they link to Japan, 51.3 per cent of the Chinese public say “Japanese electronics,” and 47.1 per cent choose the “Nanking Massacre” following a Japanese politicians’ denials of the mass murder of Chinese citizens during World War II. What comes to mind among the Japanese public first are “Chinese food” (39.9 per cent) and “Diaoyu Islands” (31.5 per cent), followed by the Great Wall (26.4 per cent).

Similar to the survey in 2011, 56.3 per cent in China and 43.4 per cent in Japan see the economic growth of the other nation as beneficial. The direct trading of the Chinese yuan and Japanese yen, which began from June 1 in Tokyo and Shanghai, has given confidence of internationalisation of the Chinese currency. Over half of Chinese students and teachers think the Chinese currency will acquire a stable status as a representative Asian currency although it will not replace US dollars, and 48.7 per cent of the Japanese public and 60 per cent of intellectuals think the yuan will assume the same importance as the yen and the Euro in international markets.

The survey also finds both countries attach importance to non governmental exchanges, such as in culture, education and the arts, and expect these exchanges to be furthered, especially in the fields of the arts and news media.

About 71.1 per cent of the public and 50.9 per cent of university teachers and students in China see the prospects for the development of ties as positive, while 58.4 per cent of the Japanese public and 33.1 per cent of the Japanese intellectuals are optimistic.

The annual opinion poll, the only one taken synchronously in the two countries, is part of the Beijing-Tokyo Forum which will be held from July 1 to 3 in Tokyo. The forum, co-sponsored by China Daily and Genron NPO, has been held alternately in Beijing and Tokyo since August 2005. The annual gathering is one of the most significant platforms for non-governmental communication between the two countries.


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