TOKYO — A large majority of Japan’s public supports the government being engaged in the pursuit of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, a Nikkei and TV Tokyo poll has found.
This engagement was cited in the joint statement issued by U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga after their summit on April 16. “We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues,” the document said.
It was the first time since 1969 that the issue of Taiwan was included in a leaders’ statement between the two countries. China has not renounced the use of force to achieve reunification with the self-ruled island.
In the poll, 74% of respondents supported Japan’s engagement toward stability in the Taiwan Strait, while 13% were opposed.
Dissected by party, engagement was favored by 80% of those identifying as backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and around 70% of those supporting coalition partner Komeito. Japanese engagement was popular among supporters of opposition parties as well, with 77% favoring the approach.
Approval for engagement in Taiwan issues topped disapproval in every age category. Support came from 74% of those older than 60, along with 80% of respondents in their 40s and 50s as well as 69% of those ages 18-39.
For the Biden-Suga meeting, during which the two leaders began to call each other “Joe” and “Yoshi,” 50% of respondents gave a thumbs up, while 32% did not. The summit drew slightly lower marks than the first meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump in 2017, which received 58% approval.
Suga’s approval rating was 47%, roughly on par with the 45% in the March survey. But 65% of respondents said they do not approve of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus, the highest disapproval rate to date. It jumped 10 percentage points from last time.
The poll was conducted Friday to Sunday in Japan by Nikkei Research. People older than 18 were interviewed by phone, and 1,026 valid responses were counted.