The first thing most Chinese think of, when asked about Japan, is the Nanjing Massacre, a new survey has found.
Chinese and Japanese scholars still dispute what happened in Nanjing
The second is electrical products, according to the China Daily, one of the organisers of the poll.
The events of Nanjing are disputed by Japan and China - one of many clashes over history and resources.
The poll found that 63% of Chinese had a "very bad" or "not very good" impression of Japan, while 38% of Japanese felt negatively about China.
Between 50,000 and 300,000 Chinese people were killed in Nanjing between December '37 and March '38 by Japan's troops, and the deaths still sour ties.
More than 93% of the Chinese people questioned said Japan should take most or all of the responsibility for the worsening of relations, the survey found, according to the China Daily.
"However, the majority pin hopes on economic co-operation, which they believe could bring mutual benefits for both sides," the newspaper said.
The poll was conducted by Japanese think-tank Genron NPO, Peking University and the China Daily.
China and Japan have clashed over several issues this year, including approaches to wartime history and territorial disputes, and tensions between them remain strained.
In April Tokyo approved a set of controversial history school textbooks, which critics say whitewashed Japan's military record during World War II, including the Nanjing massacre.
The move triggered rare public rallies in China - which analysts say had Beijing's tacit approval.
Angry Chinese protesters marched in several major cities and targeted Japanese buildings.
Further disputes followed, over Japan's quest to gain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, as well as ongoing compensation requests for Chinese survivors of Japanese atrocities during the war.
In an effort to improve relations, Japan has recently had parts of its textbooks translated into Chinese and Korean to "promote understanding by foreign countries of the real picture", according to a statement by the Japanese foreign ministry.
The translated versions were published on the internet on Wednesday.