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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).

Keywords: national_news

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2 comments so far post your own

1 | At 06:31am on Aug 08 2007, Ini Okopedeghe wrote:
I live in the US and was interested to know if there is a survey on "how Japanese people view America's."
Do you know if such a study exist and where I can access it?
2 | At 07:02am on Aug 08 2007, Kjeld Duits wrote:
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