Major Findings of a U.S. Poll on Opinions Toward Japan

June 2000
Overseas Public Relations Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The following is a summary of the results of the 2000 U.S. Poll on opinions toward Japan.


The results were almost the same as those of the poll administered last year. For several years now there has been a positive view of Japan and of Japan-U.S. relations. This year's poll found increasingly positive results in some areas (for instance, favorable feelings toward Japan and approval of the Japan-U.S. cooperative relationship).


1. Highly favorable feelings toward Japan; view of Japan as dependable

As in previous years, both the general public and opinion leaders in the United States see Japan in a favorable light and regard it as a dependable ally. The percentages of poll respondents reporting a favorable opinion of Japan reached their highest levels ever since this question was first included in the poll in 1995, both for the general public (43%) and for opinion leaders (79%).
(See references 2-a and 3-a for both the general public and opinion leaders.)

With respect to Japan's dependability, 87% of opinion leaders and 60% of the general public responded that Japan is a "dependable ally or friend" of the United States; 24% of the general public and 9% of opinion leaders responded that Japan is "not dependable."

(See Q 2-a and Q 3-a for both the general public and opinion leaders.)

2. Views of the bilateral relationship

When asked how they view the present level of cooperation between Japan and the United States, 42% of the general public responded "excellent" or "good," a 2-point drop from the previous year. However, 81% of opinion leaders took a positive view of the cooperative relationship, a large jump from last year's figure of 63%.

When asked which country in the Asian region is the most important partner for the United States, Japan headed the list, being chosen by 53% of the general public and 72% of opinion leaders. Following Japan were China (22% and 20%, respectively) and Russia (6% and 3%).

In response to the question on future relations between Japan and the United States, 49% of the general public said relations "will improve." This view was shared by 35% of opinion leaders, a 7-point drop from the 1999 survey; 59% of opinion leaders said relations "will not change," a 12-point jump from last year. An all-time low 8% of the general public and 4% of opinion leaders took a pessimistic view, saying relations "will get worse"; this was a drop of 2 points and 4 points, respectively.

(See Q 1-a, Q 7, and Q 8 for the general public and Q 1-a, Q 9, and Q 10 for opinion leaders.)

3. Increased appreciation of the Japan-U.S. security setup

The percentage of the general public supporting the maintenance of the current Japan-U.S. Security Treaty remained at last year's all-time high of 84%, while 86% of opinion leaders (down 3 points) agreed. In all there was overwhelming support for the current treaty.

A high percentage of respondents evaluated favorably the extent to which the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty contributes to stability and peace in Japan and the Far East, with 71% of the general public and 83% of opinion leaders saying it contributes "a great deal" or "a moderate amount." There were slight increases in the percentages saying the treaty contributes "only a little" or "not at all," to 23% for the general public (up 1 point) and 14% for opinion leaders (up 2 points).

With respect to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty's importance to the security of the United States itself, an all-time high 87% of the general public responded favorably that it is "very important" or "somewhat important" (up 1 point from 1999); 85% of opinion leaders (down 1 point) shared this positive view. Only 10% of the general public and 12% of opinion leaders--both all-time lows--responded negatively, saying the treaty is "not too important" or "not at all important" for U.S. security.

(See Q 11, Q 12, and Q 13 for the general public and Q 14, Q 15, and Q 16 for opinion leaders.)

4. Perceptions of economic and trade issues

In the past, economic and trade relations were a major factor influencing (especially in a negative way) Americans' perceptions of Japan and of the Japan-U.S. relationship. However, this year these issues seem to occupy a comparatively less prominent spot in Americans' consciousness as a factor used to judge Japan and the United States' relations with it.

For example, there were significant drops in the percentages of respondents choosing "improving economic/trade relations" as the method that would help most to improve bilateral relations, with 69% of opinion leaders (down 6 points) and 46% of the general public (down 7 points) making that selection.

(See Q 9-a for the general public and Q 11-a for opinion leaders.)

5. Evaluations of Japan's international role

When asked whether Japan is playing a significant role in international affairs commensurate with its economic power, 67% of the general public (the same as last year) and 59% of opinion leaders (up 4 points) responded affirmatively.

(See Q 4-a for the general public and Q 4 for opinion leaders.)


1. Survey method
(A) For the general-public sample, telephone interviews were carried out with 1,500 men and women aged 18 or over.
(B) For the opinion-leader sample, telephone interviews were carried out with 378 persons in leadership positions in the fields of politics, government, business, academia, labor, media, and religion.

2. Level of reliability
The level of reliability for both the general-public and opinion-leader samples is 95%. The margin of sampling error is ±3% for the general public and ±5% for opinion leaders. (This means that in 95 out of 100 times that a sample of this size is taken, the results will not vary by more than 3 or 5 percentage points, respectively, in either direction.)

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