WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Japan is viewed favorably in nearly all Asia-Pacific countries, except in South Korea and China, where Tokyo's wartime past has been a source of conflict between Japan and its neighbors.
The Pew Research survey of public sentiment in 10 Asia-Pacific countries, including Australia, India and Pakistan, showed that Asia's No.2 economy was viewed positively by most people, with a median of 71 percent holding a favorable view of the country, The Japan Times reported on Friday.
Bruce Stokes, the director of global economic attitudes at Pew Research Center, said while Japan was viewed more favorably than China with a median of 57 percent in the same survey, its leaders were regarded in a less positive light.
A median of 47 percent said they had confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to "do the right thing regarding world affairs," and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ranked even lower at a median of 43 percent for his management of international relations.
The countries that viewed Japan most favorably included Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia, and results indicated more than 80 percent of those surveyed had affinity for Japan's presence on the world stage.
But the popularity Japan enjoys in Southeast Asia was absent in surveys of South Korea and China, which reflected unresolved historical tensions and conflicting territorial claims. Only 25 percent of South Koreans surveyed held Japan in a positive light, and in China the number was even lower with only 12 percent of those surveyed expressing favorable views of its neighbor.
Positive views of South Korea also were down in Japan due to political quarrels regarding the issue of "comfort women" who were forced to provide sex at military brothels in wartime Japan. Positive views had plunged to 21 percent from 57 percent in 2008.
The survey involved face-to-face and phone interviews with 15,313 adults in 10 countries: Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, India, Pakistan and the United States.
According to Pew Research, 74 percent of Americans viewed Japan favorably; 60 percent said they had a positive impression of South Korea; and 63 percent said they saw India in a positive light.