Sixty years after the end of World War II, more than half those surveyed in China and Japan are not optimistic about bilateral ties.
However, the majority pin hopes on economic cooperation, which they believe, could bring mutual benefits for both sides, the latest opinion polls in both countries show.
Some 74 percent of Japan's general public and 84.9 percent of Japan's intellectuals and experts regarded ties as either "not very good" or "not good at all."
In China, 54.7 percent of the general public see ties as at a low point and 78 percent of students share the view.
However, up to 65 percent of Chinese respondents and more than 40 percent of Japanese respondents say economic ties between China and Japan are still on track, and can benefit both sides.
Of Chinese respondents, 59 percent expressed the hope that the two influential Asian neighbors could better cooperate to manage regional affairs.
While the two sides agree that relations are strained, about 90 percent of Chinese polled blamed Japan for the situation. More than half of Japanese polled said it was hard to tell who bore responsibility.
The joint opinion poll conducted by China Daily, Japanese think tank Genron NPO and Peking University was released yesterday at the opening of the first two-day Beijing-Tokyo Forum on China-Japan Relations.
The event, jointly held by the three parties, brings together more than 60 officials and experts from the two countries. The forum will be held once a year for the coming decade.
Addressing the forum, Chen Haosu, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said the Chinese side is willing to face the Japanese people sincerely based on mutual respect.
Zhao Qizheng, vice director of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, believes Sino-Japanese ties may improve over the next 10 years.
Zhao said that, since China Daily and Genron NPO convened the forum to improve communication between the two countries through bilateral discussions, he hoped the media could play a more positive role in promoting bilateral ties.
From May to August 2005, when ties reached their nadir, the Chinese and Japanese cosponsors of the forum conducted opinion polls in cities and among college students and professionals. About 4,500 copies of the survey were retrieved in both countries.
Li Yu, a professor at Peking University said the poll showed that although Chinese people do not currently have a good impression of Japan, they can still deal with the issue in a rational way, which is a foundation for better ties in the future.
He also called for more communication and understanding between the peoples of the two countries, saying it would help both sides to recognize and accept each other.
The majority of Chinese respondents said the first thing that came to mind when talking about Japan was the Nanjing Massacre, in which 300,000 Chinese were killed in 1937. The second thing was "Japanese electric appliances."
An exhibition on the Nanjing Massacre is currently being held in the National Museum, which some of the Japanese forum participants went to see.
Takao Yamada, deputy managing editor of Mainichi Newspapers paid a visit to the exhibition on Monday night and told reporters that it was his first trip to such an exhibition and that he was deeply affected by the pictures recording atrocities committed by the Japanese army.
Yamada said he realized the Nanjing Massacre is not a political issue as some Japanese politicians claimed but a historical issue that need to be faced up to.
(China Daily August 24, 2005)