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30% say Japan-China relations will “worsen,” Mainichi Shimbun–Saitama University SSRC joint poll

[The Mainichi Shimbun and Saitama University’s Social Survey Research Center jointly conducted the “2016 Survey of Public Opinion in Japan,” a postal mail and Internet survey, between October and December this year.]


Each of the “Public Opinion in Japan” polls conducted since 2014 has asked respondents to indicate on a scale of 1 to 5 how close they feel toward the United States, China, South Korea, and Russia and how they think each of Japan’s bilateral relationships will have changed ten years from now [compared to the current relationship].


Pollees rated the various countries in terms of how close they felt toward them, with 5 being “feel close” and 1 being “do not feel close.” The United States had the highest average score at 3.6 points (previous survey: 3.7 points), followed by South Korea at 2.2 points (2.1 points), Russia at 1.8 points (1.8 points), and China at 1.7 points (1.8 points). Those saying that they “do not feel close” to South Korea has decreased over the past three years from 38% in 2014 to 34% in 2015 and now 29% in 2016, and the country’s average score has increased gradually.


Regarding the state of the bilateral relationships ten years down the road, pollees rated the various countries with 5 being “the relationship will have greatly improved” and 1 being “the relationship will have greatly worsened.” The United States had the highest average score at 3.3 points (3.5 points), followed by Russia at 2.5 points (2.4 points), South Korea at 2.4 points (2.4 points), and China at 2.1 points (2.2 points). Some 31% reported that they anticipate ties with China will have worsened in ten years’ time, a 5 point increase from the previous survey and the first time for the figure to top the 30% mark.


Republican Donald Trump will take office as the new president of the United States on Jan. 20 next year. Attention will be focused on how Japanese sentiment toward the United States changes under the president-elect’s administration.


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