Mutual Distrust Continues Between Chinese and Japanese

New Poll Shows Current Safety Issues and Old War Wounds Have Left Bitter Feelings

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BEIJING ( -- Food safety concerns, memories of war, and a bilateral dispute over resource development have left bitter feelings between China and Japan.

About 72% of Japanese and 60% of Chinese polled in a survey jointly conducted by Chinese state-run newspaper The China Daily and Japanese think tank Genron NPO said they have a negative impression of the other country. The survey polled 2,617 people aged 18 or older--1,000 Japanese across Japan and 1,617 Chinese in five major cities including Beijing and Shanghai--in June and July.

The annual survey found that while the ratio of Japanese who view China negatively was almost unchanged from the previous year, the proportion of Chinese who have negative feelings toward Japan declined by more than 10 percentage points, apparently reflecting their exposure to a more positive image of Japan through Chinese media.

The poll, which has been conducted every year since 2005, cited "doubts about the Chinese government's response to food safety and other issues" and "apparently self-centered Chinese behavior to secure natural resources, energy and food" as major factors contributing to an unfavorable image of China. Food-poisoning cases in Japan involving tainted Chinese-made frozen dumplings in late 2007 and early 2008 that made 10 people ill had a particularly bad impact on Japanese consumers.

The two countries are also in a dispute over gas development in the East China Sea, where they claim as exclusive economic zones that overlap.

Meanwhile, Chinese people attributed their negative sentiment toward Japan to the fact that the two countries had fought a war in the not-too-distant past and to their belief that Japanese people "do not properly recognize their wartime aggression."

Source: Kyodo News

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