Japanese and South Koreans have disparate views on their government’s handling of the novel coronavirus situation, according to a joint opinion poll by The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Hankook Ilbo of South Korea.
In Japan, 53% of respondents said they did not favorably evaluate the Japanese government’s handling of the situation, exceeding the 43% who said they did. A further 67% said they did not appreciate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s leadership.
On the other hand, in South Korea, 86% said they highly evaluated their government’s handling of the coronavirus situation, while 66% appreciated South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s leadership. Moon prevented infections from spreading by taking such measures as intensive testing for COVID-19 and quarantine. Moon has emphasized that South Korea’s international presence has increased as a result.
The telephone poll using random digit dialing was conducted May 22-24 in Japan and May 22-23 in South Korea.
When the joint opinion poll was conducted, the number of novel coronavirus infections was on a downward trend in Japan and South Korea. The two countries also had fewer infections and deaths compared to European countries and the United States. Even so, there was a big difference between Japanese and South Korean respondents in evaluation of their government’s handling of the virus.
In Japan, the responses greatly differed depending on which political party respondents support. While 61% of respondents supporting the ruling bloc gave high evaluations to the government’s measures, 73% of those supporting opposition parties and 61% of nonaffiliated respondents did not.
In South Korea, even 76% of conservative respondents who are critical of Moon supported the government’s handling of the situation.
Regarding virus testing, 66% of Japanese respondents said they did not approve of the testing system. Of respondents supporting the ruling bloc, 53% were dissatisfied with it.
On the other hand, 95% of South Korean respondents said they approved of their country’s virus testing system.
As for the readiness of the medical system to accept infected people, 51% in Japan said they highly evaluated it and 42% said they did not, while 90% in South Korea approved.
The tracing of infection routes was also appreciated by 51% of respondents in Japan, while 39% said they did not. In South Korea, 91% said they highly evaluated the tracing.
Meanwhile, Japanese and South Korean people overwhelmingly view the current bilateral relationship as “bad,”
The 84% of Japanese respondents who answered this way is 1 percentage point higher than in the previous poll in 2019 and the third highest, after the 87% in 2014 and 85% in 2015. There have been 16 such polls conducted since 1995.
Of South Korean respondents, a record high 91% said the bilateral relationship was “bad,” up from 82% in 2019. The previous high was 89% in 2015.
The high percentage of respondents viewing the bilateral ties as bad was apparently due to reasons such as scant progress being made in the issue of wartime labor lawsuits involving former wartime requisitioned workers in South Korea and the South Korean government’s strong opposition to the Japanese government’s imposition of tougher export rules.
In Japan, 69% of respondents said they could not trust South Korea, down from 74% in the 2019 poll. In South Korea, 83% of respondents said they could not trust Japan, up from 75% in 2019, indicating a strong distrust.
In Japan, 1,041 voting-age people responded to the poll, while 1,000 voting-age people in South Korea did so.