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Majority of Koreans OK With Japanese Emperor’s Visit

Posted January. 01, 2010 08:38,   


Though negative perceptions of Japan over past history remains, the majority of Koreans say they can accept Japan as their neighbor if it sincerely apologizes for past atrocities.

This is the gist of a survey conducted by the Korea Research Center on the Korean people`s perception of Japan to mark the centennial anniversary of the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910.

On their feelings toward Japan, 52 percent of Koreans responded neutral, 35.9 percent said they dislike Japan, and 10.8 percent said they like the country.

Though the number of people saying they hate Japan is still much larger than that of those who think the opposite, anti-Japan sentiment was significantly down from the results of a March 2005 survey conducted by The Dong-A Ilbo and the Asahi Shimbun of Japan. At the time, 63.4 percent of Koreans said they hate Japan.

By age, those age 20 or younger (18.1 percent) and teenagers (19.2 percent) favored Japan the most. Affection for Japanese culture has appeared to affect their perception of Japan, according to experts.

By contrast, 40 percent of Korean males, 44.1 percent of those over age 50, 41 percent of blue collar workers, and 49.8 percent of those in the farming and fishing industries said they hate Japan.

On solutions to resolve past history between the two countries, 32.3 percent said Japan must issue an apology acceptable to Koreans and 29.1 percent said joint studies by both sides are needed so that they have the same historical perception. Twenty-five percent suggested broader bilateral exchanges, 6.8 percent better Korean sentiment toward Japan, and 5.3 percent said a review of Japan’s compensation.

In the 2005 survey, 23.9 percent mentioned the review over Japan’s compensation as a solution, a suggestion second only to a sincere apology. This means Koreans prefer the reinterpretation of bilateral history through reconciliation and exchanges over monetary compensation.

On the proposed visit to Korea by Japanese Emperor Akihito, 64.2 percent had no problem with it while 31.1 percent opposed, saying it would be premature given the Korean people’s negative sentiment of Japan.

By age, 70.3 percent of those under age 20, 71.2 percent of self-employed, and 69 percent of students approved of the visit. In addition, 69.3 percent of those supporting the ruling Grand National Party agreed with the emperor`s visit.

By contrast, 39.5 percent of those in their 30s, 39.6 percent of those in farming and fishing, and 38.2 percent of those backing the progressive Democratic Labor Party opposed.

In September last year, President Lee Myung-bak told reporters, “If the Japanese emperor visits next year, this will have a very meaningful effect on bilateral relations.”