The Yomiuri Shimbun
February 16, 2013
Fifty percent of Japanese respondents to a recent opinion poll consider Japan-U.S. relations "good" or "very good," an increase from the 35 percent who said so in the previous poll taken in November and December 2011.
Only 27 percent said the bilateral ties are "poor" or "very poor," down from 41 percent in the previous joint poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and Gallup.
This marks the first time the number of respondents with a positive impression of Japan-U.S. relations has exceeded that of people with negative impressions since 2009, when the Democratic Party of Japan came into power.
In the United States, 52 percent said relations between the United States and Japan at present are "good" or "very good," unchanged from the previous poll.
In Japan, 74 percent of respondents support the policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet aimed at strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The improved view among Japanese regarding the bilateral ties is apparently due to the Liberal Democratic Party's regaining power and the ongoing standoff between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The joint opinion poll was conducted in late January in Japan and the United States, before the announcements that a Chinese Navy ship had locked fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and a nuclear test had been conducted by North Korea.
Additionally, the percentage of Japanese respondents who consider Japan-China ties to be "poor" or "very poor" increased from 61 percent in the previous survey to 85 percent, the highest figure since 2000, when interviews by telephone were first conducted.
Eighty-eight percent of Japanese respondents said they trust China "not very much" or "not at all," up from the previous survey at 85 percent and marking the highest figure since the poll incorporated the question in 2004.
The percentage of U.S. respondents who said they trust China "not very much" or "not at all" decreased by one percentage point to 63 percent.
Concerning the row between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, 82 percent of Japanese said Japan and the United States should cooperate in coordinating a response to China. In the United States, 57 percent said the same.
In a multiple choice question regarding North Korea, when asked which issues Japan and the United States should work together on, 93 percent of Japanese and 91 percent of U.S. respondents chose "Getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program."
Asked which countries or regions they think could become a military threat to their home country, China topped the list at 79 percent in Japan for the first time, followed by North Korea at 77 percent. Multiple answers were allowed.
On the same question in the previous survey, North Korea led responses with 84 percent, followed by China at 80 percent.
Concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, the percentage of respondents who believe Japan should join the discussions exceeded that of those who do not think so in both Japan and the United States, with 49 percent agreeing in Japan and 71 percent in the United States.
The telephone survey was conducted from Jan. 25 to Jan. 28 in Japan and from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27 in the United States, with 1,001 eligible voters in Japan and 1,005 eligible U.S. voters giving valid answers.