Record 80% in Japan don't feel close to China, poll says

JAPAN - A record 80.6 per cent people "do not feel close to China," according to a public opinion survey conducted by the Cabinet Office.

The figure, which is up by 9.2 percentage points from the 2011 survey, is the highest since the Cabinet Office started taking opinion polls on diplomacy in 1975.

The percentage of people who do not feel close to South Korea also rose sharply, to 59 per cent, up 23.7 percentage points from the previous survey.

A Foreign Ministry official said, "Confrontations between Japan and these countries over the Senkaku Islands, Okinawa Prefecture, and the Takeshima islands, Shimane Prefecture, led to the deterioration of public sentiment."

The survey was conducted between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7 and covered 3,000 adults nationwide. Of them, 1,838 people, or 61.3 per cent, gave valid responses. The results of the survey were announced Saturday.

Regarding Japan-China relations, a record 92.8 per cent of the respondents said they are "not good," up 16.5 percentage points. Asked about relations between Japan and South Korea, a record 78.8 per cent said the same, up 42.8 points.

Public sentiment about relations with China likely was influenced by the anti-Japan demonstrations that erupted in the country after Japan nationalised some of the Senkaku Islands in September. During the riots, several Japanese companies were set on fire or looted.

Though relations with South Korea had been good thanks to increased interest in the country among Japanese, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's visit to the Takeshima islands in August chilled the relationship.

Only 4.8 per cent of the respondents said Japan-China relations "are good," down 14 points, while 18.4 per cent said the same about Japan-South Korea relations, down 40.1 points. Both figures were record lows.

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