The Japanese public isn’t exactly crazy about Koreans. In a recently released poll conducted in October, more than two thirds of Japanese respondents said they do not have friendly feelings towards South Korea. The Diplomat reports:
The survey, conducted by the Japanese government between October 16 and 26, showed 66.4 percent of Japanese respondents saying that they do not have friendly feelings towards Korea, the highest figure since data was first collected in 1975. The survey target[ed] 3,000 Japanese people aged 20 and over.Only 31.5 percent of respondents answered they feel close to Korea, down by 9.2 percentage points from the previous year. In the 2009 survey, 63.1 percent of people said they felt close to Korea.
The issue of Japanese-Korean dislike and mistrust runs deep, and it runs both ways:
Meanwhile, South Korean people have deep concern over the conservative shift of the Japanese government, widely considered one of the main factors contributing to the anti-Korea movement.According to a survey by Mono Research last year, 83.6 percent of South Korean people thought that the rightward shift of the Japanese government was something to worry about for Korea-Japan relations. In the survey, 33.1 percent of respondents said Japan’s view on the comfort women issue and distortion of history were worrisome, while 28 percent of people said that they worried about a Japanese tendency towards militarization.
This sourness of public opinion bodes ill for relations between Japan and Seoul. But at least for now, a bigger issue is actually driving them together: North Korean aggression. On that issue, the two governments are showing substantial signs of drawing together on intelligence and defense, which makes nothing but sense considering how closely their interests align on that front. But whether pragmatism or a long history of enmity will prevail in the future remains an open question.