53 percent of respondents in China thought that China and Japan would have a shooting war in the next six years, which may inevitably lead to war on a world-wide scale. The poll highlighted the deep-rooted mistrust that exists between the two countries, and the pessimistic world view that could lead to World War 3.
The poll was jointly conducted by the China Daily and Japanese NGO Genron. Although the majority of Chinese respondents thought there’d be war by 2020, only 29 percent of Japanese felt that same way. Nevertheless, high feelings of mistrust existed on both sides. 93 percent of Japanese had a negative impression of the burgeoning Asian superpower, and 87 percent of Chinese felt the same way about Japan.
It’s a hatred that has run deep since World War 2.
In fact, China just recently marked the 69th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the World War. The Chinese government has even declared it a national day, right as tensions continue to rise.
Japan isn’t helping matters much either. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticized as being “insensitive” after visiting the Yasukuni shrine in January. The shrine is dedicated to those who died in war, including convicted war criminals.
Most disturbing of all is the conflict over the Senkaku islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Pinnacle Rocks in English-speaking countries.) The islands have been a potential flash-point, with both sides claiming ownership despite Japanese administrative control.
The U.S. has stated publicly that it would defend Japan over the islands, and is duty-bound to protect Japan if attacked. Since the end of the last World War, Japan has been one of America’s closest allies in Asia.
A situation that resembles the very first world war?
Earlier this year, Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying that the situation in Asia was similar to Europe before the first world war, and that China and Japan needed to avoid what happened between Germany and Great Britain. Abe later said that he was misquoted because of a bad translation, but the analogy had already grabbed the media’s attention.
The world is again a web of different alliances and loyalties. Any serious conflict between Japan and China would force allies on both sides, like the U.S. and North Korea, into the fray.
It’s not clear if the respondents for the poll understood how severe a conflict between the two countries would be. Hopefully the people are wrong, and World War 3 stays in the realm of the hypothetical.
[Image Credit: Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons]