(Yomiuri: December 11, 2015 – p. 13)
By Osaka University Professor Kazuya Sakamoto
The results of the recent Yomiuri Shimbun-Gallup poll signify a stable Japan-U.S. relationship in an increasingly chaotic world order brought about by the Islamic State’s terrorism, the Ukraine situation, and other factors. That a majority of respondents expect the bilateral relationship to “improve further” or “remain unchanged” is a sign of the confidence of the people in both countries in the Japan-U.S. relationship. Demonstrating that Japan and the U.S. are inseparable will also help strengthen the deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Although there was a slight improvement in the view of Japan’s relations with China, nearly 80% of respondents still regarded the relationship as “bad.” As well, views on the U.S.-China relationship worsened. Respondents in both Japan and the U.S. had a positive view of the U.S.’s dispatch of a naval vessel to waters near an artificial Chinese island in the South China Sea. With regard to geographical areas that pose a military threat, the number of Japanese pollees who chose the Middle East increased, while the Middle East remained the top choice of Americans. Japan and the U.S. are moving closer in their perception of threat.
However, only 67% of Japanese thought that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty contributes to security in the Asia-Pacific region, down from 73% in the previous poll. This is perhaps due to the negative image of the security treaty that had emerged from the debate on the security laws.
It is necessary for Japan to continually participate in discussions at the UN Security Council (UNSC) in order to make contributions to the unstable international community. Japan should work seriously on UN reform. There is strong public support in the U.S. for Japan to become a permanent UNSC member. It is important for the two governments to cooperate closely on this issue.