It is all right if you don’t love me, but please let me love you.
I am reciting this high-school romantic line after learning about the findings of the latest Sino-Japanese survey on how people in the two countries view the other side.
According to a poll conducted in August and September, Chinese people’s view of Japan has improved to a 13-year high, with 42.2 percent of mainland respondents now saying that they hold a “good” or “relatively good” impression of the Land of the Rising Sun.
That marked a jump of 10.7 points from a previous survey conducted last year, as per the joint study by Japanese non-profit think tank Genron NPO and China International Publishing Group.
Kyodo News reports that the proportion of respondents in both China and Japan who think the present status of bilateral relations is “bad” or “relatively bad” dropped below 50 percent for the first time in eight years.
Among the Chinese respondents, the figure fell 19.1 percentage points to 45.1 percent, while among the Japanese it stood at 39 percent, down 5.9 points.
The annual survey, which marked its 14th edition after being launched in 2005, took in the responses of 1,000 people in Japan and 1,548 in China aged 18 or older.
Now, let’s come to the really interesting part!
Despite efforts by the two nations to mend ties, as many as 86.3 percent of Japanese respondents still hold an unfavorable impression of China, little changed in recent years.
How unfair! More Chinese now love Japan, but twice as many Japanese do not love China.
What’s the reason?
Well, nearly 60 percent of the Japanese who had a negative impression of China cited repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels and aircraft into Japanese territorial waters and air space near the Senkaku Islands (which the Chinese call Diaoyu).
Japan, despite suffering calamities this year that forced temporary shutdowns of some airports, has emerged as the most popular short-haul destination for Chinese tourists.
In the October golden week, Japan and Thailand were the most popular overseas destinations for Chinese, with some seven million mainlanders traveling overseas, according to Ctrip data.
The two Asian powers have been increasingly reaching out to each other after a low period marked by a territorial row and bitterness over the wartime history. This year marks the 40th anniversary of a peace and friendship treaty between the two countries.
Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe will visit China later this month and hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in what would mark the first such official trip by a Japanese leader in seven years.
The trip is a sign that both the sides are eager to repair their fractured relations and start anew.
Against this backdrop, it’s not entirely surprising that the Chinese people are increasingly shedding their antagonism towards Japan.
In the latest survey, nearly 52 percent of the Chinese respondents who had favorable views toward Japan cited the nation’s “economic development” and “high living standard.”
And almost half said they admire the “politeness” and “high levels of culture and education” in Japan.
Now, let’s hope that these are the qualities that the Crazy Rich Chinese will imbibe themselves.
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