TOKYO: More than half of Chinese people think their country could go to war with Japan in the future, a new poll revealed Wednesday, after two years of intense diplomatic squabbles.
A survey conducted in both nations found that 53.4 percent of Chinese envisage a future conflict, with more than a fifth of those saying it would happen “within a few years”, while 29 percent of Japanese can see military confrontation.
The findings come ahead of the second anniversary Thursday of Japan’s nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea that have formed the focus of tensions between the Asian giants.
Underlining the lingering row over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands, four Chinese coast guard vessels sailed into their territorial waters on Wednesday morning. China regards them as its territory and calls them the Diaoyu Islands.
The survey was conducted by Japanese non-governmental organization Genron and the China Daily, a Chinese state-run newspaper, in July and August.
It questioned 1,000 Japanese aged 18 or older and 1,539 Chinese of the same age range in five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xian.
In the annual opinion poll which started in 2005, 93.0 percent of Japanese respondents said their impression of China was “unfavorable,” worsening from 90.1 percent last year and the highest level since the survey began.
The percentage of Chinese who have an unfavorable impression of Japan stood at 86.8 percent, an improvement on 92.8 percent last year.
“The most common reason for the unfavorable impression of China among the Japanese public was ‘China’s actions are incompatible with international rules’ at 55.1 percent,” Genron and the China Daily said in a joint statement.
That was closely followed by “China’s actions to secure resources, energy and food look selfish” at 52.8 percent.
The third most commonly-given reason was “criticism of Japan over historical issues” at 52.2 percent, while “continuous confrontation over the Senkaku islands” came fourth place at 50.4 percent, it said.
“On the other hand, ‘The Diaoyu/Senkaku islands’ (64.0 percent) and ‘historical understanding’ (59.6 percent) were the two prominent reasons for the unfavorable impression of Japan among the Chinese public,” it said.