Opinion Poll: View of People in Japan on Sovereignty of Senkaku Islands - Discuss Japan
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Diplomacy, No.12  Nov. 8, 2012

Opinion Poll: View of People in Japan on Sovereignty of Senkaku Islands

The survey asked people in Japan for their opinions on the recent nationalization by the government of Japan of three islets among the Senkaku Islands.

The most common answer, provided by 36.8% of respondents, was that they ”do not appreciate” the government’s action, while 22.6% said they ”appreciate” the action. However, the poll also indicates that about half of the respondents support the government’s action to some extent when including the answer that they ”do not appreciate the action but think it was inevitable,” which was given by 27.1%.

The survey also asked whether the issue of the Senkaku Islands can be solved through bilateral negotiations between Japan and China.

Only about one-third of the respondents, or 34.2%, think it is ”solvable” while 59.4% think it is ”unsolvable” – revealing that many people in Japan think it is extremely difficult to find an ultimate solution to the issue.

Another question was put to the respondents who answered ”unsolvable” to the previous question. This asked for possible alternatives to bilateral negotiations.

The most popular answer, provided by 45% of the respondents, was to ”explain Japan’s position on the Senkaku Islands to the international community and gain its support,” followed by ”make an effort to improve Japan-China relations by focusing on the common interests of the countries even more,” which was given by 32%. Meanwhile, 30% of the respondents suggested the government should ”make an effort to reach an agreement for a peaceful solution and avoid any military clash.”

These answers, which were strong recommendations from the respondents, indicate such efforts by Japan and China should precede other things, even though the issue appears difficult to be solved by the two countries alone.

Meanwhile, a question was also put to the respondents who replied that the Senkaku issue was ”solvable” through Japan-China negotiations. This asked for specific ways to solve the issue.

With regard to this question, 39.3% of the respondents suggested to ”shelve the issue.” After undertaking various efforts, it seems that a fair number of people in Japan think the issue should ultimately return to its previous state of being put on the shelf.

The poll targeting about 500 people in Japan was conducted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3, 2012, by the Genron NPO, a public-interest independent think tank.

Survey Outline

Number of Respondents: 155

Variation in Age:

  • 10s = 0.7%
  • 20s = 5.9%
  • 30s = 5.9%
  • 40s = 14.4%
  • 50s = 32.7%
  • 60s = 25.5%
  • 70s = 13.7%
  • 80 or older = 1.3%


  • Corporate Executives = 19.0%
  • Corporate Employees = 14.4%
  • Media Executives = 2.0%
  • Media Members = 7.8%
  • National Government Officials = 1.3%
  • Local Government Officials = 6.5%
  • Diet Members and Their Secretaries, People Associated with Political Parties = 0.0%
  • Local Assembly Members and Their Secretaries = 1.3%
  • Scholars and Researchers = 8.5%
  • People Associated with NPOs and NGOs = 7.8%
  • People Associated with Various Organizations = 9.2%
  • Housewives and House Husbands = 1.3%
  • Self-Employees = 7.2%
  • Students = 2.0%
  • Others = 11.8%

※Figures for people who have not responded to the survey are not included in the table. Since decimals are rounded to the nearest tenth, totals may not be equal to 100%.