Survey Finds Japan-South Korea Relationship Best It’s Been in Years

File photo/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during their meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on May 7.

More than 40% of residents in both Japan and South Korea consider the state of the bilateral relationship “good,” significantly higher than in 2022, according to the latest joint survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and South Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo.

It is believed that moves toward improving relations at the government level since the Japan-South Korea summit meeting in March have been reflected in the perceptions of the two countries’ peoples.

In the survey conducted from May 26 to 28, the percentage of those who said the current relationship between Japan and South Korea is good increased to 45% in Japan and 43% in South Korea, both up from 17% from the previous survey in 2022. It is notable that in Japan, this was the first time since 2011 that over 40% of the respondents answered that way. In South Korea, the figure was the highest ever among the 19 surveys conducted since 1995, when the question was first asked, and tied with 1995.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

In Japan, 40% said they could trust South Korea, up 10 percentage points from the previous survey, while in South Korea, 28% said they could trust Japan, compared to 25% in 2022. Although at low levels, both are the highest since 1996, when this question began to be asked.

As for the solution to the lawsuits issue of former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula by the South Korean government, in Japan 57% said they supported it and 31% said they did not, while in South Korea, 36% said they supported it and 59% said they did not. Only a small number of respondents – 22% in Japan and 18% in South Korea – thought Seoul’s efforts will bring the issue toward a final settlement.

Differences were seen between Japanese and South Korean respondents in how they evaluate the ongoing efforts to rebuild bilateral relations through a series of summit meetings between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. In Japan, 84% said they supported the efforts, far exceeding the 13% who said they did not, while in South Korea, 47% said they supported the efforts, which was close to the 49% who did not.

While 85% in Japan approved of Yoon’s attitude toward improving relations with Japan without being preoccupied with history issues, only 50% in South Korea approved of it.

The survey was conducted by telephone among voters aged 18 or older in both Japan and South Korea.