National flags of Japan and China (R) ar

The hard feelings between China and Japan is no real secret. Besides modern-day disputes, the two countries have had a long-running enmity that dates back to well before the atrocities of World War II. All things considered, then, it shouldn't be a shock that half of Chinese car buyers wouldn't consider a Japanese car.

This survey, conducted by Bernstein Research, found that 51 percent of 40,000 Chinese consumers wouldn't even consider a Japanese car – which, again, isn't really surprising, when you consider stories like this. According to Bernstein, the most troubling thing is the location of these sentiments – smaller, growing cities where the population is going to need sets of wheels. We imagine it wouldn't be as big of an issue in traffic-clogged Shanghai or Beijing, but these small cities are going to become a major focus for automakers.

"Nationalistic feelings are an impediment. [Japanese] premium brands will struggle," analyst Max Warburton wrote in a research note, according to The Wall Street Journal. Things will improve for Japanese makes, although China will remain a challenge, with Warburton writing, "the one thing that comes out most clearly is that most Chinese really want a German car. While we expect Japanese brands to continue to recover market share this year, ultimately the market will belong to the Germans."

There are a few other insights from the study. According to WSJ, Japanese brands are viewed better than Korean brands, and they're seen as more comfortable than the offerings from Germany or the US, despite the fact that everyone in China apparently wants a German car.

This is a tough position for the Japanese makes to be in, as there's really not a lot they can do to win favor with Chinese buyers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, particularly as the importance of the PRC continues to increase year after year.