Daily Israel Report

No Surprise - Japanese Poll Shows Scant Amity For Chinese

A government poll shows that friendly feelings towards China in Japan have hit bottom.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 11/27/2012, 4:35 AM

Shintaro Ishihara
Shintaro Ishihara
Reuters

It was a waste of good money. An annual Japanese government survey found that 80.6% of the respondents do not feel amicable at all towards the Chinese. 92.8% of the Japanese do not feel that relations with China are proceeding smoothly.

Feelings toward South Korea also dipped, but nothing in comparison to the anti-Chinese sentiments. Friendly feelings towards the United States rose to 84.5%

This is taking place under a government of the Japan Democratic Party that prefers to take a moderate attitude towards China and has criticized the opposition Liberal Democratic Party for pledging that it will establish government institutions on the islands that are in dispute between Japan and China.

The current government is reminding the world that Japan accepts the compulsory arbitration of the International Court of Justice and is willing to have the issue decided by the courts should China initiate the move. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, in an article published in many Asian newspapers, stated that "Japan, as a responsible member of the international community, stands ready to stabilize relations with China. We hope the new leadership in China will also take a positive approach."

According to the public opinion polls, the Japan Democratic Party is running 3rd. First are the Liberal Democrats, who are seeking to reassume their role as a perennial party of government and second is the new Japan Restoration Party. The new party takes its name from one of the pivotal events in Japanese history, the Meiji restoration of the mid-19th century, that ended feudalism and propelled Japan into becoming a modern nation state and a Pacific power.

The first restoration was prodded by the appearance of Western warships in Japanese harbors and the lessons of the imperial powers' dismemberment of China.  Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who seeks a Japanese military buildup, including nuclear weapons, to prevent Chinese domination of Japan, is one of the party's leaders. Ishihara also advocates a military alliance with Vietnam and the Philippines-- two countries with whom China also has territorial disputes.

The Chinese have also seen the Japanese poll and they blame Japanese politicians for the rise in anti-Chinese sentiment. China Daily quoted Feng Wei, a professor of Japanese studies at Shanghai's Fudan Univestiy . "There are not so many differences in campaign platforms among different parties in Japan, as they fear that they will lose certain supporters if they make the platforms too clear, but playing up nationalism is safe and effective."

The Chinese government would be advised to consider the opposite possibility: Tensions between China and Japan for which China is at least partially responsible have made it politically expedient for Japanese politicians to take a nationalist line.