TOKYO — Nearly 90 percent of Japanese feel the security environment in East Asia is more severe, according to a survey result released by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, reflecting public awareness of China’s growing military clout.
In the telephone survey conducted nationwide from March 17 through 22, 59.0 percent of 1,000 respondents said they “really think” the security environment surrounding the East Asian region has been getting more severe in recent years, and 29.0 percent said they think so somewhat, the poll showed.
The figures were up from 54.7 percent and 27.7 percent a year ago, respectively.
Asked about what should be focused on in diplomacy toward China with multiple answers allowed, 61.6 percent replied that Japan should take a firm stance on Chinese vessels’ intrusion into Japanese territorial waters and other actions, while 50.7 percent said it should urge China to respect human rights, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
Tokyo and Beijing mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties this year, but their relations remain tense over territorial, security and wartime issues. Chinese Coast Guard ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which China calls Diaoyu.
As for the Japan-U.S. relationship, 70.3 percent of the respondents expect cooperation in the security field to be strengthened, far more than 54.1 percent that say the economic, trade and finance areas, while 44.4 percent say energy and environment issues.
To deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 64.6 percent said the government should beef up collaboration with the international community, including other members of the Group of Seven major developed nations, and 63.7 percent said Japan should actively accept evacuees from Ukraine.
“To implement diplomatic policies smoothly, obtaining public understanding and support is essential so that we will draw on (the survey outcome) for future policy planning,” the Foreign Ministry said.