Press Release

At the civic level, growing warmth between Japan, S. Korea

  • 2023-08-22
  • The Asahi Shimbun (Azusa Ushio)

An opinion poll on how Japanese and South Koreans view each other’s country showed a marked rise in favorable sentiment on both sides.

Genron NPO, a Japanese nonprofit think tank, and the East Asia Institute, a South Korean think tank, have jointly conducted the surveys on an annual basis since 2013.

They said growing warmth toward Japan among South Koreans after a long spell in freeze-level bilateral ties appeared mostly based on a perception that China poses a growing threat in the region.

The poll this year was carried out between mid-July and early August. Around 1,000 people in each country responded.

In the category of impressions of one another’s country, “Good” increased, while “Bad” decreased in both countries compared with a year ago.

Japanese who harbor favorable feelings toward South Korea increased by 5 percentage points to 30.4 percent, while those with unfavorable feelings came to 40.3 percent, down 8.5 percentage points from a year earlier.

The respective figures among South Koreans were 30.6 percent, up 10.1 percentage points, and 52.8 percent, down 10.4 points.

With regard to reasons for having a good impression of Japan, 63.8 percent of South Korean respondents selected, “because Japanese people are kind and sincere,” followed by 37.8 percent who picked, “Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living.”

In addition, 25.7 percent, more than double the figure of last year, said, “Both are democratic countries.”

“Both are democratic countries” was also the fourth most cited reason in Japan at 21.4 percent, an increase of 5.3 percentage points from a year ago.

When South Koreans were asked which country they felt close to, Japan or China, 24.3 percent chose Japan, up 10.1 percentage points from the survey in 2020 which asked the same question, while 16.9 percent opted for China, down 7.5 percentage points.

The finding marked a sharp change from two years ago.

“The Chinese threat theory indirectly influenced and changed impression of Japan” among South Koreans, said Sohn Yul, president of the East Asia Institute, who attended an online news conference held in Tokyo to announce the latest findings.