Opinion Polls

The Japan-China Joint Opinion Survey 2017

⇒ The Japan-China joint survey shows improved sentiment among citizens

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The non-profit think-tank The Genron published the results of the Japan-China Annual Joint Opinion Poll 2017 on December 14, 2017. This survey is conducted annually by The Genron NPO and China International Publishing Group and was administered between mid-October and early November this year. Detailed results are published on The Genron NPO's website. The following results are provided to members of the press for publishing.


Key Findings:

・ Regarding the current state of Japan-China relations, pessimistic views are largely decreasing and there is a trend towards seeing improvement in current relations.
・ Factors that have contributed to improving pessimistic views among the Japanese public include media reports that have focused significantly on North Korea's nuclear and missile program and have also increased opportunities for the public to learn about improved government relations with China.
・ Reasons for the sudden improvement in the Chinese public's impression of Japan include increased visits to Japan and diversifying sources of information among the younger generation.
・ While 70% of both the Japanese and Chinese public responded that bilateral relations are important, the ideal relationship still remains unknown.


Significant Trend towards Improved Perceptions of Current Japan-China Relations

The Japanese who view current Japan-China relations as "bad" largely decreased from last year to 44.9% (71.9% last year), falling below the 50% mark for the first time in 7 years. On the other hand, while 64.2% of the Chinese public still view relations as "bad," there has been a 14-point decrease from last year. However, there was no large increase in the Japanese or Chinese view that current Japan-China relations are "good," and it was the large decrease in pessimistic views that contributed to improved perceptions of Japan-China relations this year.

Factors that have contributed to this improvement in pessimistic views among the Japanese include: the large increase in summit meetings and foreign minister's meetings between the two countries as compared to last year's survey period (increase from 6 to 11 meetings), greater opportunities to learn about improved government relations through media reports, and heightened sense of military threat from North Korea (89.2%) due to the increase of its nuclear and missile tests this year. While the Chinese public also shares such concerns, they do not feel as threatened by North Korea (13.1%) as the Japanese, rather, to the Chinese, Japan poses a higher level of threat (67.7%) both in terms of military threat and historical perception. This has led to the difference in the two countries' understandings of current Japan-China relations.


Reasons for Sudden Improvement in the Chinese Public's Impression of Japan

The Chinese public's impression of Japan largely improved this year, and the percentage of those who have an "unfavorable" impression of Japan fell 10 points from last year (76.1%→66.8%), showing an improvement to levels before the territorial issues ensued over the Senkaku Islands 5 years ago.

Furthermore, over 30% of the Chinese have a "favorable" impression of Japan (21.7%→31.5%); this percentage has recovered to levels from the 2012 survey. Factors that have contributed to this improvement include increased opportunities for the Chinese people to visit Japan and their diversifying sources of information. The percentage of Chinese who have visited Japan has continuously been on the rise since 2013, and this year, this percentage was 15.7% (as compared to 13.5% last year). Considering only the Chinese respondents who have visited Japan, 59.8% have a "favorable" impression of Japan, largely surpassing the 26.2% of the "favorable" impressions by those who have not visited Japan.

At the same time, over half (61.9%) of the Chinese public under the age of 20 have a "favorable" impression of Japan. This percentage is also a high 40.6% among those in their 20's. Reasons for this include the increased rate of the younger generation obtaining their information on Japan-China relations through news apps and websites on their cell phones (including smartphones): 57.9% among those under the age of 20 and 43.8% among those in their 20's.


70% of Both Japanese and Chinese Feel that Bilateral Relations Will Continue to be Important in the Future

70% of both countries' people view Japan-China relations as important (Japan: 71.8%, China: 68.7%). But why are Japan-China relations so important? The majority of Japanese respondents (57%) cited the "necessity of Japan-China cooperation towards peace and development in Asia," while an overwhelming 75.4% of Chinese respondents cited Japan's status as an "important neighboring country." However, even while the importance of the relationship is recognized, half of both the Japanese and Chinese feel that "peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity are ideal, but may not be achieved." Thus, while both countries view Japan-China relations as important, neither country understands why the relationship is important or what the ideal relationship should look like.


Current State of Japan-China Relations and Impressions of the Other Country

Significant Trend Towards Seeing Improvement in Japan-China Relations

-There has been a large decrease in Japanese respondents who view current Japan-China relations as "bad" (71.9%→44.9%), and this year marked the third lowest level in the past 13 years since this survey was first conducted. The Chinese still see the relationship as "bad," but this percentage has also decreased 14 points from last year. (78.2%→64.2%)

-While the majority of both countries' people feel that bilateral relations "will not change," the view that relations "will worsen" has largely decreased both among the Japanese (34.3%→23.6%) as well as the Chinese (50.7%→29.7%). The percentage of those who feel that relations "will improve" in the future has increased among both nationals. This percentage has especially risen among the Chinese from last year (19.6%→28.7%), showing a decrease in pessimistic views on the future of Japan-China relations.


Chinese Public's "Favorable" Impression of Japan Increases to Levels Before Nationalization of the Senkaku Islands

-While the Japanese public's "unfavorable" impression of China has slightly improved from last year (91.6%→88.3%), this percentage still remains in the 80% range. On the other hand, the Chinese people's "unfavorable" impression of Japan decreased from last year (76.7%→66.8%) to the 60% range for the first time in 5 years. The Chinese public's "favorable" impression of Japan also increased (21.7%→31.5%) to levels from the 2012 survey, before the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands 5 years ago.

-When asked how sentiments towards the other country changed from last year, the majority of Japanese respondents replied that there has been "no change" (40.8%), followed by "not sure" (30.5%). On the other hand, nearly half (49.7%) of the Chinese respondents replied that it has "worsened," while 20% replied that it has "improved."


Effective Measures for Improving Bilateral Relations and Importance of Private Exchanges

Strengthening Governmental Level Trust is Necessary for Improving Japan-China Relations

-The majority of both the Japanese and Chinese feel that "strengthening trust between the governments" (40.7% among the Japanese and 30.2% among the Chinese) and "increasing interaction between the two countries' leaders" (20.1% among the Japanese and 27% among the Chinese) are effective means for improving Japan-China relations.

A New Cooperative Relationship Should be Established for a Stable and Peaceful Order
-When asked whether a new, stronger cooperative relationship should be established in order to strive towards a stable and peaceful order in the largely shifting political environment of the international economy and Asia, 60% of the Japanese and 70% of the Chinese responded that a new, stronger cooperative relationship should be established.

Majority View Interaction Among the General Public as Important

-Approximately 40% of the Japanese and over 50% of the Chinese feel that interaction among the general public was not very active between the two countries this year. On the other hand, 60% of the Japanese and over 70% of the Chinese view such private exchanges between the people as "important." In terms of areas where interaction among the general public should be promoted, the majority of Japanese cited "accepting exchange students from one another's countries" (38.9%) and "dialogues among the public in order to improve bilateral relations and resolve various issues" (37.8%), while the majority of Chinese cited "interaction among the two countries' journalists" (46%).


Countries of Military Threat to the Japanese and Chinese

The Japanese View North Korea, While the Chinese View Japan and the US as Military Threats

-Over 80% of the Japanese and approximately 60% of the Chinese feel that certain countries pose a military threat to their own country. In terms of specific countries that pose military threats, nearly 90% of the Japanese selected "North Korea," and while it was followed by "China," there was a 21 point decrease in those who responded "China" as compared to last year (66.6%→45.3%). On the other hand, the majority of Chinese continue to view "Japan" as a military threat (67.6%), followed by the "United States" (65.7%). Only 13.1% of the Chinese feel that "North Korea" poses a military threat (11.8% last year), and more of the Chinese view "South Korea" as a military threat.

-In terms of reasons why the Japanese view China as a military threat, the majority cited "China's intrusion into Japan's territorial waters" (70.1%). Additionally, over 60% cited "conflict over marine resources and the Senkaku Islands" as well as "aggressive attitude regarding the South China Sea." On the other hand, an approximately 80% majority of the Chinese cited "Japan's attempt to besiege China ... in cooperation with the United States" as a reason for their view of Japan as a military threat.


Possibility of Military Conflict Between Japan and China Over Territorial Issues

Majority of Chinese Respond that Military Conflict Will Occur

-In terms of possible military conflict over the Senkaku Islands, the majority of the Japanese (37%) feel that it "will not occur." On the other hand, over half of the Chinese (53.3%) feel that it "will occur," however, this percentage has dropped 9 points from last year, with an increase in those who feel that it "will not occur."
-60% of the Japanese and 70% of the Chinese feel a need for a hotline to prevent accidental military confrontation, however more of the Chinese feel that it should be realized immediately.

A Multilateral Framework for Discussing Security in Northeast Asia is Necessary

-Nearly 40% of the Japanese and 50% of the Chinese feel that a multilateral framework for discussing security in Northeast Asia is necessary. In terms of participating countries, over 80% of the Japanese feel that Japan, China and South Korea should participate. Among the Chinese, Japan, Russia, the US, and South Korea all comprised 40-45% of responses in addition to their own country of China, showing that many Chinese view this multilateral framework as a "six-party talk."


Coexistence, Co-prosperity and a Cooperative Relationship

"Peace" and "Co-development" are Key Goals for East Asia, Japan-China Cooperation in the Region Should Focus on "North Korea's Nuclear Issue"

-Half of both the Japanese and Chinese feel that "peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity are ideal, but may not be achieved." However, among the Chinese, nearly 30% feel that "peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity are possible."

-Nearly 70% of the Japanese feel that "peace" is the most important value that East Asia should pursue, while 40% see "co-development" as the most important value. Among the Chinese, over 50% responded "peace" and over 40% responded "co-development." The two countries were thus in agreement that these two values are of the highest importance.

-Approximately 60% of both countries' peoples "agree" that cooperation between Japan and China should be strengthened as a means towards resolving bilateral issues and issues within Asia as a whole. As for fields of cooperation, over 70% of the Japanese cited "North Korea's nuclear issue," while 60% cited "environmental issues." The most popular response among the Chinese was also "North Korea's nuclear issue" at 40%, showing an agreement between the two countries.


70% View Japan-China Cooperation on Global Issues as Important

-While nearly 70% of both the Japanese and Chinese feel that it is "important" for Japan and China to cooperate towards resolving global issues, around 20% of the Chinese also feel that it is "not important." In terms of specific issues, the majority of the Japanese cite "international counterterrorism measures," "nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear proliferation," and "promotion of measures on global environmental issues and climate change." On the other hand, the Chinese cite "maintaining global peace, including in the Middle East and North Africa," "international counterterrorism measures," "nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear proliferation," and "developing global infrastructure and economic cooperation with developing countries."


70% of the Chinese View Domestic Media Reports as "Objective and Fair"

-Following last year's trend, over 70% of the Chinese feel that their domestic media is "objective and fair" in regards to reports on Japan-China relations. On the other hand, only 20% of the Japanese feel that domestic media reports on Japan-China relations are "objective and fair."
-The majority of the Japanese feel that the internet does not accurately reflect the people's will. Over 80% of the Chinese, however, feel that the internet accurately reflects the people's will.


Background to Mutual Understanding

Rise in Chinese Public's Visits to Japan to 15%, Surpassing Japanese Public's Visits to China

-Among the Japanese, 13.8% responded that they have visited China and approximately 20% replied that they have close friends or acquaintances from China who they can talk to, showing no large change from last year. On the other hand, the percentage of Chinese who have visited Japan largely increased from last year (13.5%→15.7%). The ratio of Chinese who have traveled to Japan is on the rise, and it was the first time since the survey began 13 years ago that the percentage of Chinese who have traveled to Japan surpassed that of the Japanese who have traveled to China. However, the percentage of Chinese who have close friends or acquaintances from Japan who they talk to still remains under 10%.

-An overwhelming number of Japanese obtain their information on China from Japanese news media and, like last year, television was an especially prominent source. However, there has also been an increase in Japanese respondents who obtain information via "Japanese TV shows, informational programs and movies," "information from/conversations with family and friends, acquaintances, the internet, and social media," and "Japanese books." Compared to the Japanese, the Chinese obtain their information from various sources that have changed over the years. While over 80% cite domestic news media as their source of information, over 60% also cite "Chinese TV shows, informational programs and movies" and 30% cite "Chinese books (including textbooks)." At the same time, while television sources comprise the majority (58.1%) in terms of domestic news media sources for the Chinese, it was not as prominent a result as with the Japanese, and a large percentage (30.7%) also obtain information from internet news sources on their cell phones.


Overview of the "13th Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll"


-The opinion poll in Japan was administered through the placement method (in which the survey was hand-delivered to homes and then collected) between October 21 and November 5, targeting men and women above the age of 18. A total of 1000 valid responses were obtained. The highest level of education among respondents were 7.7% junior high school diploma and under, 47.3% high school diploma, 21% junior/technical college diploma, 21% bachelor's degree and 1.6% master's degree.
-The opinion poll in China was administered through individual interviews between October 20 and November 1, targeting men and women over the age of 18 in 10 cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang, Wuhan, Nanjing, Xian, Qingdao and Zhengzhou. A total of 1,564 valid responses were obtained.


About The Genron NPO

The Genron NPO is an independent, neutral, non-profit network-based think-tank founded in 2001 under the belief that a stage for serious debate towards the future and discussions founded in a sense of responsibility are necessary for a healthy society. The "Tokyo-Beijing Forum," founded in 2005, has been held annually for the past 13 years as the only high-level platform for private dialogue between Japan and China. In 2012, The Genron NPO was selected to represent Japan in a think tank conference hosted by the United States Council on Foreign Relations, and communicated Japan's opinions on global issues together with think tanks from 25 countries around the globe. Apart from this, The Genron NPO's domestic activities include annual reviews of the government's performance and evaluations of campaign pledges by major political parties at election times, discussions on democracy in Japan and in Asia, and private dialogues towards peace in Northeast Asia.


About China International Publishing Group

China International Publishing Group (CIPG) was founded in 1949 with a mission to introduce China to foreign countries through books, magazines and websites. CIPG has over 20 subsidiaries as well as 12 overseas branches located in the United States, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Egypt, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, constituting a conglomerate of foreign language publishing and marketing.
Currently, CIPG has a staff of nearly 3,000 people, including over 100 foreign experts. Every year CIPG publishes over 3,000 titles of books and 30 periodicals in more than 10 languages. CIPG operates www.china.org.cn and another 30 websites. It organizes book exhibitions and cultural exchange activities overseas each year.


Contact:The Genron NPO office Yuho Nishimura
TEL:03-6262-8772 info@genron-npo.net

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