Opinion Poll: Japan Image among European Opinion Leaders (Summary)

June 25, 2007

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned an opinion poll on the perception of Japan in four European Union countries from February to March 2007, whose result was summarized as follows. In the poll, the samples were among the intellectuals in the fields of politics, academia, economy, medicine, justice and journalism in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

1.  Overview of the Survey

(1) Period conducted: From February to March, 2007

(2) Survey method: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned the IPSOS, Inc., a private  surveying agency in Brussels, to conduct a telephone survey.

(3) Target Samples: About 300 intellectuals in each of the UK, Germany, France, and Italy

2.  Overview of the Results

(1) Image of Japan

(a) In each of the four countries the image of Japan was largely a country with a rich tradition and culture, a strong economic and technological power, and beautiful nature.  

(b) As to the sources of information about Japan, television/radio (53%), publications such as newspapers, magazines, and books (51%) are the leading sources of information on Japan.  However, multimedia including the internet was the highest (69%) in France.  The internet as well as the traditional mass media proved to be one of the most popular sources in obtaining information among intellectuals.  Also, relatively many respondents answered ‘Movies’ (Germany: 31%, France: 28%).

(c) As to fields where they wish to deepen their knowledge about Japan, the percentages of ‘Traditional Art and Culture’ (40%), ‘Science and Technology’ (36%), and ‘History’ (34%), were high.  One interesting observation is that while ‘Traditional Art and Culture’ (32%) in the UK, ‘Science and Technology’ (44%) in Germany, and ‘Economy’ (41%) in Italy, showed the highest scores, ‘Contemporary Japanese Culture (Pop Culture)’ (52%), following ‘Traditional Art and Culture’ (56%) came second in France.  

(d) The percentage of the respondents who answered that Japan was a ‘dependable country’ or ‘rather dependable’ (UK: 72%, Germany:88%, France:89%, Italy:96%) was much higher than those who answered ‘undependable’ or ‘rather undependable’ (UK: 17%, Germany: 8%, France:8%, and Italy:2%).

(2) Japan-EU Relations

(a) With regard to the current status of the Japan-EU relations in general, the percentage of ‘good’ was highest (UK:61%, Germany:67%, France:49%, Italy:62%) in all the four countries.  The respondents who perceived the relations negatively (poor/bad) or ‘excellent’ were rather marginal in percentage.

(b) In a question asking in what fields Japan and the EU should seek cooperation, the percentage of respondents in three countries who answered ‘Economy and Business’ (UK:33%, France:33%, Italy:32%) was the highest, and ‘Security Policy’ (30%) came first in Germany.

(c) In terms of the question on which country was the most important partner outside the EU, it found that the United States was the highest (UK:62%, Germany:55%, France: 56%, Italy:59%), and China was the second highest (UK:18%, Germany:24%, France: 24%, Italy:19%).  Those who answered ‘Japan’ were UK: 6%, Germany:14%, France: 3%, and Italy: 3%.

(d) With respect to a non-EU partner which will be the most important for the EU in a near future, China came the highest (39%) on the whole.  The percentage of those who answered ‘China’ was particularly high in France (51%) and in Italy (43%).  The ‘United States’ was the highest in the UK (35%) and Germany (40%).

(3) Japan in the International Community

(a) As to whether Japan should be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), ‘Yes’ was much higher than ‘No’ in all of the countries (UK:64%, Germany:67%, France: 69%, Italy:77%).

(b) As to the reasons why they answered ‘Yes’ to the question, the percentage of “because as an economic power, Japan’s membership of the UNSC will strengthen the effectiveness of its functions” was the highest in three countries (UK:44%, France: 48%, Italy:42%).  In the meantime, the percentage of “because Japan as its permanent member is expected to contribute significantly to international peace and security”’ was the highest (31%) in Germany.

3.  Evaluation on the Results

(1) The image of Japan largely appears favorable.  Japan’s credibility continues to be high (86% on average).  

(2) Many respondents answered that they received information on Japan from the internet as well as such traditional media as television, radio, and printed publications.  This highlights the necessity to make use of the new media including the internet to outreach to intellectuals.

(3) Compared to the previous surveys, the general impression of the Japan-EU relations was viewed more positively with expectation of further cooperation in the fields of economy, business and security. The survey also showed that European intellectuals saw the United States the most important ally outside the region, and China and India as increasingly more important countries for the region.  This underlines the necessity to raise the level of interest in and understanding of Japan within the EU.