Today's Alarming Japan-China Charts

By James Fallows

[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:

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/08/todays-alarming-japan-china-charts/279076/