Most China and South Korea businesses say they can't work with Japan firms: Poll

TOKYO (AFP) - About 60 per cent of Chinese corporate leaders say they cannot do business with Japanese firms because of thorny relations between the two countries, a poll published on Wednesday showed.

About the same percentage of South Korean bosses said they tried to keep dealings with Japanese companies to a minimum, citing political tensions between the two countries.

However the survey, carried out jointly by the Nikkei of Japan, South Korea's Mail Business Newspaper and China's Global Times, found around 80 per cent of Japanese executives have no problem dealing with companies from the other two countries.

That stands in marked contrast to just 13 per cent of Chinese businessmen who said they were able to separate their company's dealings from the diplomatic frostiness.

Tokyo is at odds with both Beijing and Seoul over different territorial disputes. Relations have also long been strained by differing interpretations of their shared history.

That was exemplified by the visit last month to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which he claimed was a bid to promote peace.

Seoul and Beijing see the shrine, which counts convicted war criminals among the 2.5 million souls it honours, as a place that glorifies Japan's 20th century outrages.

The survey was carried out in December, before Mr Abe's visit.

"Japanese, Chinese and South Korean corporate leaders hold strikingly different views on cooperating amid political tensions," the Nikkei said.

Nearly two-thirds of Japanese executives named Southeast Asia as their most promising market.

About 38 per cent said it was China, down eight percentage points from last year's survey.

"China plus one" has become a buzzword in corporate Japan as firms seek a second foothold overseas as well as the world's second-largest economy.

Southeast Asia, with a population of some 600 million, offers fertile ground for expansion.

For Japanese companies, "it's wise to diversify investment to places like Southeast Asia to keep some distance from China and avoid getting sucked in", said Mitsumaru Kumagai, chief economist at the Daiwa Institute of Research.

The poll received answers from 109 companies in Japan, 100 in China and 137 in South Korea.

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