Today's Alarming Japan-China Charts

World War II was a long time ago, but bad feelings are ever-refreshed.

[Note: please see update below.] Let's take a break from matters American to look westward across the Pacific. When my wife and I moved to China now (gasp!) seven years ago, I wrote that one of the biggest surprises was how much more hostile prevailing Chinese attitudes toward Japan had become, compared with when we were living in Asia 20 years earlier. Just to spell out the surprise value here, the most obvious reasons for Chinese hostility -- Manchukuo, the Rape of Nanking, and so on -- were that much more distant, yet resentment about them was only going up. 

Here's an unpleasant bit of new evidence, from a respectable Japanese think tank. The rising red line above shows Japanese people who don't like China. The rising purple line is Chinese people who don't like Japan. The plummeting blue and green lines are people in each country who like the other. 

You can list explanations for these trends. Japanese leaders have made repeated inflammatory visits to the wartime Yasukuni shrine; Chinese state media have run nonstop anti-Japanese war dramas on TV; both sides have pushed the dispute over the Diaoyu / Senkaku islands. You can also think of officials in each country who would back off (and have, in the past few months) if the hostile attitudes threatened to provoke actual hostilities.

Still, this is a nastier situation than most Americans realize -- and nastier than prevails between any other pair of countries with whom the U.S. has such important ties. Not to mention that they are the second and third largest economies in the world. There is a lot more in the study worth checking out, for what we hope turn out to be purely theoretical reasons. [UPDATE: There is something obviously wrong with the graphics of the pie chart immediately below. The numbers don't correspond to the sections of the pie. I have written to the organization to ask what's up; for now I will assume that it is a chart-drawing blunder. Thanks to a reader in Beijing for the heads-up.]


And one more, which I find very interesting in what it suggests about each country:

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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