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Number of Japanese in China falls 10% amid island dispute

TOKYO--The number of Japanese living in China fell more than 10 percent in 2013, figures showed, amid flaring nationalism and a dispute over the ownership of an island chain.

Japan's foreign ministry said Friday that 135,078 Japanese nationals lived in China during the year to October 2013, down 10.19 percent from the previous 12 months.

The drop comes after successive yearly population increases in a country that is a crucial economic partner for Tokyo, despite often-strained ties.

“The decrease can be partly blamed on the worsening view of Japan among Chinese students and business people because of deteriorating diplomatic relations,” said Shinichi Seki, an economist specializing in China at Japan Research Institute. “In addition to that, we are seeing living conditions in China becoming worse,” he said, referring particularly to the often hazardous levels of air pollution that blanket major Chinese cities.

Relations have worsened sharply since September 2012 when Tokyo nationalized islands in the East China Sea that it has administered for over a century under the name Senkakus, but which are claimed by Beijing as the Diaoyus.

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