Almost four out of 10 Japanese people feel South Korea poses a military threat to their country, according to a Gallup poll for the Yomiuri Shimbun.
The survey, published Friday, shows 79 percent of Japanese see China as the biggest military threat to Japan, 77 percent North Korea, 45 percent Russia, 39 percent the Middle East and 37 percent South Korea. The poll was conducted among 1,001 Japanese and 1,005 Americans.
In the same survey last year, only 23 percent of Japanese saw South Korea as a military threat. The Yomiuri said President Lee Myung-bak's visit to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo, which are claimed by Japan, played a major part in raising negative sentiment among Japanese.
Since the annual survey started in 2000, the Japanese had seen North Korea as their biggest military threat, but an intensifying dispute between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, seems to have changed the perception. In fact, 85 percent of Japanese feel Japan-China relations are strained, the highest proportion yet.