Japan ties set to improve despite twists and turns
Neighborly ties vital to Japan
A recent public poll shows Japanese and Chinese now have more negative opinions about each other's country. For example, in a survey conducted by the Japanese government last year, only 18.7 percent of the respondents expressed a "sense of friendliness" toward China, compared with 45.9 percent 20 years ago, while as many as 78.5 percent said they had no "sense of friendliness" toward their neighbor.
The declining "good impression" about China among Japanese is a result of both historical issues and the confrontation between the two countries in the East and South China seas.
Besides, Japan maintains strong vigilance against China because of the latter's growing economic and military buildup. On the other hand, China feels vexed at the attempt of Japan and the US to contain its rise.
Japan and China once had very close ties. Japan still uses some Chinese characters as part of the Japanese language, and many of its proverbs come from Chinese. There are many new words in modern Chinese that have been translated from Japan and then introduced to the Chinese language.
The miracle of Japan's economic revival after World War II has also had a great impact on China's economic development. In the above-mentioned opinion poll, there is also a vital, positive fact－76.9 percent of the Japanese respondents said ties with China are important to Japan.
Masahiro Akiyama is former president of Tokyo Foundation.