Opinion Poll: 2012 U.S. Image of Japan

May 22, 2012

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 2012. 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 1,200 citizens aged 18 and over who live in the continental United States. For the "opinion leaders" group, telephone interviews were carried out with 200 people in leading positions in the fields of government, business, academics, mass media, religion, and labor unions (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.25% for the "general public" group and plus or minus 7% for the "opinion leaders" group, at a 95% level of confidence).

  1. The percentage who perceived Japan to be a dependable ally was 84% among the general public and was 90% among opinion leaders, high figures similar to last year's poll. 80% of the general public and 89% 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 was 43% among the general public, and 44% among opinion leaders.

  2. As for which country is the most important partner of the U.S. in Asia, the percentage of the general public that chose Japan as the most important partner was 50% (31% last year) and for those that chose China it was 39% (39% last year). Among opinion leaders, China was the first place with 54% (46% last year) and Japan came in the second place with 40% (28% last year).

  3. With regard to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the last year percentage of those who answered that the Treaty "should be maintained" was 89% among the general public and 93% among opinion leaders. These figures have stayed at a high level since this survey was first commissioned. The percentage who answered that the Treaty contributes to stability and peace in Japan and East Asia either "to a great extent" or "to a moderate amount" was 83% among the general public and 89% among opinion leaders. The percentage of those who answered that the Treaty was "very important" or "somewhat important" for the U.S. in terms of its own security was 90% among the general public and 86% among opinion leaders. Thus, the Japan-U.S. security system was highly appreciated on the whole.

  4. With regard to the impression of Japan (surveyed only among the general public), Japan was viewed as "a country with great traditions and culture" (97%); "a country with a strong economy and high technology" (91%); "a country which launches new cultures such as animation, fashion, and cuisine" (90%) and "a country with beautiful nature" (88%). With respect to areas that the public are interested in regarding Japanese culture, "cuisine" (86%); "Sumo or Japanese martial arts like Karate, Judo, and Kendo" (62%); "Animation" (60%) and "Bonsai" (60%) were among the most selected answers.

  5. With regard to what policy Japan should focus on in order to deepen economic ties between Japan and the U.S., 88% responded that Japan should "promote technical cooperation, such as in clean energy or on developing a high-speed railway system", 86% answered that Japan should "sign and ratify a free trade agreement with the US", and 86% answered that Japan should "participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership".
    • (*The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.)

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