Majority of Japanese want harder line against China
TOKYO -- Some 55% of Japanese say the government should take a harsher stance against China, whose ships have sailed into Japan's territorial waters on multiple occasions recently, a Nikkei-TV Tokyo poll conducted Friday through Sunday found.
Chinese ships have entered Japanese territorial waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea since the beginning of August. Sailing through Japanese-controlled waters has become the norm for China, and Tokyo has repeatedly protested these actions. But the two governments also are trying to arrange a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 meeting early next month in Hangzhou, China.
Among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 63% want a stronger response from Japan. But a majority of supporters among coalition member Komeito and the opposition Democratic Party favored increased dialogue.
The survey shows approval for the Abe government by 62% of the Japanese public, four percentage points higher than in the previous poll conducted Aug. 9-11. Disapproval fell five points to 27%.
But 49% said they opposed Tokyo's decision to proceed with paying 1 billion yen ($9.8 million) to a South Korean foundation as part of an agreement aimed at resolving the wartime "comfort women" controversy, given that a statue symbolizing the issue has not been removed from outside Japan's embassy in Seoul. Only 37% favored making the payment.
South Korea said it would work to remove the statue, and the government appears to be basing its timing on public opinion there. Abe may face a public backlash if the statue is not removed.
Abe will go Friday to Vladivostok to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is also expected to visit Japan this year. A major topic will be the return of four northern islands controlled by Russia since the end of World War II to Japan, which is a signature issue for Abe. Some 54% supported the negotiations even if only some of the territory were returned, while 36% supported talks only if all four islands were regained.
The Bank of Japan's negative interest rate policy drew 33% support, 10 points higher than when it was introduced in February but still well below the 47% who oppose it. Abenomics was viewed favorably by only 40%, compared with 43% who did not approve.