For a long time, Japan has taken most of the heat in its uneasy diplomatic alliance with China. In China, public anger over perceived slights—from the perception that Japan hasn’t owned up to war-time crimes to Tokyo’s claim to disputed territory in the East China Sea—often boils over into boycotts, protests, and even full-scale riots. But although they may not show it as publicly, the Japanese are every bit as unhappy with China as the other way around. More so, even.
According to a new survey, 91% of Japanese citizens polled by the Pew Research Center said that they had an unfavorable view of China. While that’s a few percentage points lower than last year’s figure of 93%, it’s a sharp increase since 2002, when only 42% had an unfavorable view of China. It’s also the highest of over 40 countries surveyed by some distance:
While public opinion in Japan toward China has always been prickly, there has been a marked increase in negative sentiment in recent years, according to a recent survey (pdf) by the Tokyo-based NGO Genron NPO. Its polls have shown the Japanese dislike of China consistently surpassing the Chinese dislike of Japan in recent years:
The factors fanning the flames include Beijing’s creation of an “air defense zone” last year as well as Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s more assertive foreign policy, which is seen by rivals like China and South Korea as overly militaristic.
Neither Beijing or Tokyo has said whether Chinese president Xi Jinping will meet Abe during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Beijing at the end of this week. But Xinhua reports that, despite “icy” relations, China “will undoubtedly receive the Japanese leader with etiquette and hospitality.” That’s a start, at least.