Opinion Poll: 2009 U.S Image of Japan Study (Summary)

May 18, 2009

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned the Gallup Organization to conduct an opinion poll on the image of Japan in the United States of America from February to March 2009.

This poll is the latest in a series of similar opinion polls conducted almost every year since 1960. For the “general public” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 1,500 citizens aged 18 and over who live in the continental United States. For the “opinion leaders” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 253 people in leading positions in the fields of government, business, academics, mass media, religion, and labor unions.

  1. This survey continues to show the respondents’ positive views of Japan and a positive evaluation of Japan-U.S. relations in general, which is a trend that has continued for several years. The percentage of the general public who perceived Japan as a dependable ally was 80%, a 13 percentage point increase from the figure in 2008 and the highest-ever record. The percentage was 91% among opinion leaders, a high figure similar to the last year’s poll. 73% of the general public and 81% of 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 understanding of each other has increased by 4 points among the general public, and by 12 points among opinion leaders since last year.  
  2. As in the previous year, Japan continues to be the country most often selected by the Americans as the most important partner of the U.S. in Asia.   46% of the general public named Japan as the most important partner, a 3 percentage point increase over last year. China had the second-largest percentage, with 39% among the general public (5 point increase since last year) and 42% among opinion leaders (4 point increase since last year).
  3. This year's survey included a question “Should Japan and the U.S. sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?" for the first time.  62% of the general public and 67% of opinion leaders respectively responded in the affirmative.
  4. As to the question of whether Japan has played an important international role commensurate with its economic strength, approximately 70% of the respondents answered affirmatively.  Japan was highly evaluated especially in the fields of “Science / Technology” and “Global Economy.”
  5. With regard to the perception of Japan’s attributes (surveyed only among the general public), positive images received high points, as in last year:  Japan was viewed as “a country with great traditions and culture” (96%); “a country with a strong economy and high technology” (88%); “a country with beautiful nature” (85%); and “a peaceful country” (84%).
  6. As in the last year, the question of whether Japan should be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council was surveyed among opinion leaders. 57% answered affirmatively, which was an 8-point increase from last year, which was 49%.