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37% of Japanese say ties with S. Korea unimportant: survey

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Around 37% of people in Japan do not think that the country’s future relationship with South Korea is important, a Cabinet Office survey on diplomacy showed Friday.

At 37.4%, the share of respondents who said they do not think Tokyo-Seoul ties are important fell by 3.0 percentage points from the record high set in the previous survey for fiscal 2020, but it remained at a high level.

The large number of people disinterested in relations with the East Asian neighbor reflects the impact of animosity between the two governments over wartime labor and so-called comfort women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, who served as prostitutes, including by coercion, for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Meanwhile, a total of 98.2% of respondents said that ties with the United States are either important or somewhat important, up 1.1 points to reach a record high.

On topics to focus on in cultural exchanges with foreign countries, the share of people who said that Japan should promote traditional cultural practices such as “ikebana” flower arrangement, tea ceremony and “kabuki” theater plunged from 40.7 % in the fiscal 2019 survey to 25.3%.

Meanwhile, 40.1% said that Japan should promote pop culture such as anime and manga, up from 31.4%.

While the figures cannot be directly compared as the survey method changed in fiscal 2020, an official from the Foreign Ministry said that “there may be increasing interest in modern and popular culture.”

The mail survey, conducted from Sept. 30 to Nov. 7 last year, covered 3,000 people aged 18 or older across the country. Valid responses were given from 56.7%.