TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Almost 90% of Japanese and more than 70% of South Koreans see China’s growing military influence in the region as a threat, according to the results of a joint poll conducted in the two countries last month.
The poll, conducted in Japan by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and in South Korea by Hankook Ilbo, asked adults about the state of Japan-Seoul relations and the ongoing points of contention between the two countries. Respondents were also asked to rate their country’s relations with China, North Korea and the United States.
When asked about their country’s relations with China, 61% of Japanese and 48% of South Koreans said it was “pretty bad”, with 17% of Japanese and 10% of Koreans describing it as “very bad” .
Still, only a minority in either country wants to cut economic ties with China, their biggest common export partner. On this point, 48% of Japanese and 33% of Koreans said “leave it as is”, while 23 and 42% of Japanese and Koreans, respectively, said economic ties with China should be strengthened.
When asked if China’s growing military pressure on East and South China Sea countries poses a threat to their country, 88% of Japanese and 72% of Koreans replied that they thought so.
A smaller majority also said their government should be “in tune” with the United States as Washington ramps up pressure on Beijing over security, diplomatic and human rights disputes. On this question, 59% of Japanese and 64% of Koreans agree.
A large majority in Japan (81%) and South Korea (80%) called Xi Jinping (習近平) “unreliable”, suggesting that the Chinese leader is seen as barely more reliable than North Korean Kim Jong -a.
However, the poll also found that roughly the same number of Japanese and South Koreans regard their respective presidents as suspiciously as President Xi. In addition, more than 80% of both sides believe that their country’s relations with the other are either “rather bad” or very “bad”.
Survey respondents were also asked about the historical issues behind the diplomatic schism between the two nations, including Korean “comfort women” forced into prostitution by the Empire of Japan during World War II. A majority of Japanese (59%) and Koreans (79%) did not think it was necessary to “go further on the issue of historical consciousness” to mend the relationship and expressed the pessimism that it was. ‘would improve in the future, with 73% of Japanese and 58% of Koreans expecting “no change”.
The survey was conducted by landline phone and used the Random Dialing Survey (RDD) method to reach both landline and mobile phones. It collected responses from 1,063 Japanese over 18 from May 21 to 23 and from 1,000 South Korean adults on May 21 and 22.