A record 87 per cent of Japanese believe relations between Japan and South Korea are "bad," a feeling shared by 86 per cent of South Koreans, the third-highest percentage in history, according to a joint survey conducted recently by The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Korea Times.
Both figures showed marked increases from the previous survey conducted in March last year, when a then-record 71 per cent of Japanese, and 78 per cent of South Koreans, felt relations were bad.
Asked whether they consider the other country trustworthy, a record 73 per cent of Japanese respondents-up from 55 per cent in last year's survey-responded either "not very" or "not at all." Negative responses from the South Korean side rose to 83 per cent from 80 per cent last year.
The telephone poll was performed May 23-25, with 1,010 eligible voters in Japan and 1,000 South Koreans responding.
In the poll, 89 per cent of Japanese respondents said South Korean President Park Geun-hye's repeated criticisms of Japan over the country's understanding of historical issues in the international arena were "not appropriate."
Meanwhile, 94 per cent of South Korean respondents said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine last December was "not appropriate."
These issues appear to have further lowered people's assessment of the state of bilateral relations and the feeling of mutual trust between the two countries on both sides.
Concerning Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine last December, 49 per cent of Japanese said it was "appropriate," while 41 per cent said it was "not appropriate."
Meanwhile, 77 per cent of South Koreans said that Park's repeated criticisms of Japan were "appropriate."
In response to a question on whether bilateral relations should be improved, 83 per cent of Japanese respondents said they should be. Ninety per cent of South Koreans responded the same way.
When asked whether bilateral relations should be improved even if the other country continues making assertions they consider unacceptable, 57 per cent of Japanese respondents said that mending relations was not a possibility so long as South Korea continued to make assertions unacceptable for Japan.
Likewise, 77 per cent of South Koreans said relations could not be improved as long as Japan makes assertions they consider unacceptable.
Asked about the possible impact of China's economic growth, 56 per cent of Japanese said the negative effects on their country's economy would be greater than the positive ones.
In South Korea, 26 per cent of respondents said the negative effects on their economy would outweigh the positive ones, while 43 per cent said there would be more benefit than harm.
Asked whether the United States or China would become more important for their own country, 74 per cent of Japanese participants chose the United States, while only 14 per cent said China. In South Korea, 47 per cent of respondents said the United States, while 46 per cent said China.