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Sino-Japanese Ties at Low Point: Survey

Only 31 percent of Japanese feel friendly towards China, less than half the number that felt close to the United States, a survey said Thursday, showing the strained ties between the Asian neighbours.

Of the 2,418 people interviewed by Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, 31 percent said they were very much or somewhat friendly towards China, while 68 percent said they did not feel so. The survey conducted by the major daily, found that sentiment was particularly negative among the younger generation, with more than 70 percent in their 20s to 40s saying they did not feel friendly towards China.

Those friendly to the US reached 65 percent, overwhelming the 33 percent with negative views about Japan's closest ally.

People who felt friendship towards the Republic of Korea (ROK) came to 44 percent against 54 percent who said otherwise.

The Mainichi Shimbun, which conducted the poll over September 2-4 across Japan, said Japanese sentiment towards China fell after the April rallies in China against Japan's approval of a controversial school history textbook.

The textbook, which whitewashes Japan's wartime atrocities, also ignited massive protests in other Asian countries victimized by the Japanese invasion in World War II, including ROK and China.

Disputes over history have become the crux of strained ties between China and Japan. Aside from the history textbook issue, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi repeatedly visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours 14 A-class war criminals alongside the Japanese war dead.

The two neighbours also have disputes over claims to undersea oil and gas deposits in the East China Sea.

According to a joint opinion poll conducted by China Daily, Peking University and Japanese think tank Genron NPO in August, 54.7 percent of Chinese see current bilateral ties at a low point.

About 90 percent of the Chinese polled blamed Japan for the situation, whereas more than half of Japanese polled said it was hard to tell who bore responsibility.

However, 65 percent of Chinese respondents and more than 40 percent of Japanese respondents of that poll believed economic ties between China and Japan are still on track and will benefit both sides. Of Chinese respondents, 59 percent expressed the hope that China and Japan could better cooperate to manage regional affairs.

(China Daily October 7, 2005)

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