How Americans View Japan Today
Saturday, July 21, 2007 Posted: 07:36 AM JST
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released its annual report of how Americans view Japan. Some figures we have heard before: 83% of respondents believe that Japan shares common values with the US (the UK scores 85%, Germany 79% and France only 62%). Some 95% describe Japan as "a country that has great tradition and culture", while only 51% think it is a democratic country. Other figures surprise:
At 48%, Japan is still seen as America's best friend in Asia, a figure that hasn't changed much since 2001. But China is quickly catching up. In 2001, 22% mentioned China. Now 34% do so. In third place is Russia with only 8%. Japan clearly plays an important role, but it now has a competitor.
However, the responses from opinion leaders are eye opening when it comes to choosing America's best friend in Asia. Among them, Japan scores 53% against 38% for China. Not so different from the general population it appears. But in 2001, the figures were 72% for Japan against 20% for China. Japan has tumbled in the eyes of opinion leaders. Although, encouraging is that this year's figure of 53% is higher than the figures for 2006 (47%) and 2005 (48%).
What is especially interesting is how Americans get their information about Japan. Not surprisingly, 80% of respondents answered "television", a figure that has remained quite steady over the years. The increasing importance of the internet doesn't surprise either, 27% in 2001, 43% now.
American education appears to ignore Japan, though. Knowledge about Japan through school studies has declined to 51% from 59% in 2002.
But what is really alarming is that "Japanese friends" declined from 37% in 2002 to just 29% last year. You'd imagine that in this age of international travel, this figure would increase, not decrease. With "Experience in Japan" at only 12%, this means that most people get their information about Japan from second-hand sources.
Download the full Japan Poll for 2007 (111k pdf file).
* * *