By Kusakabe Motomi
In the Ninth Japan-South Korea Public Opinion Poll jointly conducted by Genron NPO (president: Kudo Yasushi) and South Korea’s East Asia Institute (EAI), 64.2% of South Korean respondents said “trilateral military cooperation among Japan, the United States, and South Korea should be strengthened,” an increase of more than 10 percentage points from the previous poll conducted in 2020. “As the threat from China increases and the confrontation between the United States and China intensifies, South Koreans are rethinking their nation’s relations with Japan,” Kudo comments.
The joint opinion poll was first conducted in 2013. This year’s survey was conducted from August to September, with valid responses received from about 1,000 people each in Japan and South Korea. The survey results were announced on Sept. 28.
Relations with China seem to have influenced the level of support for the trilateral framework among South Koreans. The percentage of South Korean pollees who said China is a “military threat” increased from 44.3% in 2020 to 61.8% this year. As the U.S.-China conflict deepens, more and more people in South Korea, a U.S. ally, seem to have become more cautious about China.
Some 70.5% of Japanese respondents said that they feel China to be a threat, an increase of 7.1 points from the previous poll. However, only 36% of Japanese respondents said that military cooperation among Japan, the United States, and South Korea should be strengthened, a decrease of 2.9 points from the previous year. While both Japan and South Korea are becoming more vigilant against China, their views on the trilateral framework differ.
Some 20.5% of South Koreans reported they have a “good” impression of Japan, an increase by more than 8 points from the previous year when the figure hit an all-time low. However, 63.2% of South Korean respondents said their impression was “not good” (71.6% in the 2020 poll).
Some 25.4% of Japanese have a “good” impression of South Korea, virtually unchanged from the previous year (25.9%). Meanwhile, 48.8% of Japanese pollees said they have a bad impression, up by 2.5 points, thus indicating that Japan-South Korea relations remain cold.