A poll conducted earlier this year revealed the majority of Japanese view the US as a threat to Japan, despite playing a less important role in the world than they did a decade ago.A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in April and May in Japan revealed that the majority of Japanese people view their ally, the United States, as one of the major threats to their country. They also believe the US is playing a less important role in the world than it did 10 years ago. Perhaps paradoxically, however, most of the 1000 respondents still share a favorable view of the US.
According to the poll, 72% have favorable view of the US in general. However, 61% of them see America as being in decline, as compared to a decade ago. Fifty-two percent of respondents named the US as 6th out of 8 major threats to their nation, after cyberattacks from other nations, Daesh and China’s emergence as a world power. Global climate change and economic instability are also among the top threats.
At the same time, only 33% believe tensions with Russia are threatening their country — even less than those concerned with Middle-Eastern migrant influx.
Interestingly, despite the fact that the vast majority of Japanese share an unfavorable view on China, with 63% believing China is a major threat, respondents were split evenly regarding whether Japan should grow strong economic ties with their western neighbor or take a tough stance on territorial disputes: 47% believe trade is a better way to stem the perceived Chinese threat, while a slightly smaller share, 45%, believe confrontation is the solution.
While the Japanese remain skeptical about playing a more important military role in the region, this year’s 29% is a slight increase over previous year figure of 23% of respondents supporting the empowering of the Japanese military.
In terms of Daesh and terrorism in general, the vast majority of respondents (79%) believed military force will do no good in fighting the threat, as it creates more hatred and more terrorists.
Respondents were generally approving of Shinzo Abe’s handling of trade, the economy and relations with the US, South Korea and China. Interestingly, the 52% support for Abe’s economic policies comes along with only 30% of respondents believing the economic situation in the country is good. In 2012, only 7% of people favored the state of the country’s economy.
In terms of the view abroad, the vast majority of respondents expressed confidence in US President Barack Obama during the time of the survey.
“The Japanese retain confidence (78%) in US President Barack Obama to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” the survey reads.
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