China and Japan are heading toward military conflict and fewer people think war can be avoided, the Financial Times reported Thursday, citing a Sino-Japan survey.
Fifty-three percent of Chinese respondents — and 29 percent of Japanese polled — expect the two countries to go to war, according to the survey by China Daily and Genron, a non-profit Japanese polling group.
The poll was released ahead of the second anniversary of Japan’s move to nationalize some of contested islands in the East China Sea.
Relations between Japan and China have soured since Japan bought three of the tiny islands – which China claims and calls the Diaoyu – in 2012.
Japan defended the move as an effort to thwart a plan by the anti-China governor of Tokyo to buy them, but China accused it of breaching an unwritten deal to keep the status quo, the report said.
According to the poll, 38 per cent of Japanese think war will be avoided, down nine points from 2013.
A record 93 per cent of Japanese have an unfavourable view of their Chinese neighbours while the number of Chinese who view Japanese unfavourably fell six points to 87 pe cent.
Japanese tabloid newspapers are driving the already negative sentiment toward China by focusing on its warmongering, the report said, citing Jeff Kingston, a Japan expert at Temple University in Philadelphia said.
He said the Japanese government is amplifying the anxiety by talking about the threat from China.
Sino-Japanese relations started to improve about a year ago, spurring Tokyo to start laying the groundwork for a possible first meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But ties deteriorated rapidly again after Abe’s visit in December to Yasukuni, a controversial shrine dedicated to Japan’s war dead including a handful of convicted war criminal, the report said.
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