As Japan grapples with its neighbors over contested islands, Japanese goodwill toward China and South Korea has hit record lows, a new government survey has found.
Disputes over the Senkaku and Takeshima islands -- known by other names to China and South Korea -- has already taken an economic toll, helping drag down Japanese exports to their lowest point since the economic slowdown three years ago, Bloomberg News reported last week. Shipments to China, the biggest market for Japanese exports, slumped 11.6%.
The survey reveals that beyond diplomatic sparring and economic headaches, the spat has also swayed hearts and minds in Japan. More than 80% of Japanese people polled “do not feel close to China,” the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported, the highest level reported since the poll started in 1975. A mere 4.8% of people polled said ties with China were good.
Observing the trend from across the water, Chinese professors told the China Daily that Japanese politicians playing up nationalism before elections and “sensationalized” media were to blame. But the islands dispute has also fueled animus among the Chinese, who have burned Japanese cars, canceled trips to Japan and even illegally downloaded Japanese pornography as a gambit to cut into Japanese profits, The Times reported this year.