Rising tensions between China and Japan are taking their toll, according to a new poll by Genron NPO/China Daily.
Among those Chinese citizens surveyed in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xian, a majority (53.4 percent) believe “there will be a military conflict” with Japan in the coming years. The Japanese polled were more ambivalent, but they also feared “conflict within a few years.”
Here is how the pollsters put it:
On the possibility of a military conflict between Japan and China, the most Japanese respondents (38.0%) chose “There will not be conflict in the future,” yet it had decreased significantly from 46.7% last year. While the answer “Don’t know” exceeded 30% (32.9%, 29.3% last year), the total of “There will be conflict within a few years” and “There will be conflict in the future” came close to the 30% mark (29.0%), and showed a significant increase from 23.7% last year.
Among the Chinese respondents, 42.2% think that “There will be conflict in the future” and 11.2% think “There will be conflict within a few years.” In total, more than half of Chinese respondents (53.4%) perceive the possibility of a military conflict between Japan and China.
Overall, “unfavorable” impressions of Japanese and Chinese toward each other worsened over the past year: 90.1 percent of Japanese registered an unfavorable impression of the Chinese; 86.8 percent of Chinese have an unfavorable impression of the Japanese.
Here are the reasons the Genron NPO/China Daily pollsters found for the unfavorable and favorable impressions of the Japanese and Chinese toward one another:
The most common reason for the “unfavorable impression” of China among the Japanese public was “China's actions are incompatible with international rules” at 55.1% (47.9%), which is closely followed by “Chinese actions to secure resource, energy and food look selfish” at 52.8% (48.1% last year). Last year’s most common answer “Continuous confrontation over the Senkaku Islands” has decreased from 53.2% last year to 50.4% and it became the fourth common answer. Thus there was a decrease in people who raise concerns over the confrontation on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, and there was an increase in people who are concerned with China’s hegemonic action as the reason for an “unfavorable” impression.
On the other hand, in the reasons why the Chinese respondents have an “unfavorable” impression of Japan, “The Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands” and “Historical understanding” were the two prominent answers, which is the same as last year’s result. Yet, it is worth noting that there were decreases in the number of people who raised these two reasons. In contrast, there is an increase in people who chose “Some Japanese politicians' careless remarks” at 31.3% (25.2% last year), and this indicates more people have an unfavorable impression due to Japanese politicians’ inappropriate words and actions.
In the reasons for a “favorable” impression, “because of direct interaction with Chinese people, particularly with Chinese students in Japan, they are becoming familiar” was the most common answer by the Japanese respondents at 39.7% (32.3% last year). This shows that private interaction contributed to the “favorable” impression of China.
Among the reasons why the Chinese respondents had a “favorable impression,” “Japanese products are high quality” (57.2%, 49.4% last year), “Japanese people are earnest and hardworking” (53.8%, 54.4% last year), and “Japanese people are kind and have good manners and high cultural standards” (52.6%, 39.2%) were the most common answers with more than half of the respondents choosing the answers. These results imply that the high trust of Japan’s manufacturing technology and the highly valued Japanese national character contributed to the “favorable” impression of Japan. “Remarkable economic growth after WWII” has decreased by 30 percentage points from 49.4% last year to 19.7% this year.