Americans think that Japan is the most important partner of the U.S. in Asia, according to a March 2017 opinion poll conducted by Nielsen Consumer Insights on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The poll is the latest in a series of polls on the image of Japan done almost every year since 1960. For a general public group, telephone interviews were carried out with 1,005 adults aged 18 and over who live in the U.S. For an opinion leaders group, telephone interviews were carried out with 200 people in leading positions in the fields of government, business, academia, the news media, religion and labor unions.
The percentage of the general public who answered Japan being the most important partner of the U.S. in Asia was the largest at 33 percent, up from 27 percent in 2015, followed by China at 20 percent, down from 25 percent in 2015. As for the opinion leaders, 34 percent (down from 48 percent in 2015) answered Japan, followed by 21 percent who answered China (up from 19 percent in 2015).
Japan seen as dependable partner
The percentage who sees Japan as a dependable partner was 82 percent among the general public, and 86 percent among opinion leaders, high figures similar to the last year’s poll. The poll showed that 62 percent of the general public and 58 percent of the opinion leaders viewed cooperation between Japan and the U.S. as excellent or good. In addition, the percentage of those who agreed that the Japanese and American people had a good or fair understanding of each other was 43 percent among the general public, and 33 percent among the opinion leaders.
With regard to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the percentage who answered that the U.S. should maintain the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was 82 percent among the general public and 86 percent among the opinion leaders, receiving over 80 percent support just as last fiscal year.
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty highly evaluated
The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty system is highly evaluated overall. 83 percent among the general public and 88 percent among the opinion leaders said that the Treaty contributes to the peace and security of Japan and in the Far East either to a great extent or to a moderate amount.
At the same time, 87 percent among the general public and 86 percent among the opinion leaders said that the Treaty is very important or somewhat important for the U.S. in terms of its own security. With regard to whether or not Japan should increase its self-defense capability, 61 percent of the general public answered Yes, should increase, while for the opinion leaders the figure was 66 percent.
As for whether Japan and the U.S. should closely cooperate for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, the majority of respondents favors the idea with 91 percent of the general public and 96 percent of the opinion leaders. In addition, the majority of the audience responded that Japan should play a more proactive role (80 percent among the general public and 85 percent of opinion leaders).
Asking the opinion leaders what policy Japan should focus on to deepen economic ties between Japan and the U.S., 86 percent responded that Japan should promote technological cooperation in areas such as clean energy and high-speed railway systems, followed by 57 percent who said Japan should cooperate in negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and 57 percent who favored cooperation to develop natural resources such as shale gas.
Image of Japan: Tradition and culture, high-tech, food
Asking the general public about the image of Japan, 95 percent said the country has great tradition and culture; is a country with a strong economy and high-technology (87 percent); is a country with beautiful nature (84 percent); is a country that has consistently been a peace-loving nation since the end of World War II (82 percent); and is a country that introduces new cultures to the world (79 percent).
With respect to the areas of Japanese culture that the public are interested in, Japanese food (70 percent); Architecture (66 percent); Lifestyles and Way of Thinking (65 percent); Sumo or Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Judo, or Kendo (50 percent); and Flower arrangement (46 percent) were among the most selected answers.