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Record 88% of Japanese “feel friendly” toward U.S., Cabinet Office survey

TOKYO — The percentage of Japanese who “feel friendly” toward the United States increased to an all-time high of 88.5 percent, a Japanese government poll showed Friday, reflecting strengthened ties between the allies in such areas as security and the economy.

 

The figure is up 4.5 percentage points from the previous survey a year ago, according to the Cabinet Office survey, which also found that around 85 percent of respondents see ties between Japan and China as “not good” or “not really good.”

 

Similar polls on foreign affairs have been conducted since 1975. The question about a feeling of friendliness toward the United States first appeared in the 1978 survey.

 

The latest survey also showed a record 91.3 percent view the current Japan-U.S. relationship as “somewhat good” or “good,” with up to 98.2 percent saying bilateral ties are “somewhat important” or “important,” also a record high.

 

The results “reflect a good condition” for the Japan-U.S. relationship, a Foreign Ministry official told reporters.

 

“The Japanese government has been further beefing up its alliance with the United States, and collaboration with (U.S. President Joe) Biden’s administration in a variety of fields such as national security, the economy and people-to-people interaction,” the official added.

 

The Cabinet Office cautioned that the latest data, which covered a period from Sept. 30 to Nov. 7, cannot be compared directly with figures before a 2020 survey, as the survey method shifted from in-person interviews to mail-in surveys in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The 2021 survey, meanwhile, found 79.0 percent of Japanese say they “do not feel friendly” toward China, up from 77.3 percent a year earlier and nearly four times the respondents who said they “feel friendly.” The latter group accounted for 20.6 percent, down from 22.0 percent.

 

Those who said ties between Tokyo and Beijing are “not good” or “not really good” came to 85.2 percent, up from 81.8 percent, and 14.5 percent said they are “somewhat good” or “good,” down from 17.1 percent.

 

The official said the two neighbors have “various outstanding problems that have caught Japanese people’s attention,” specifically the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands and human rights issues in Hong Kong and China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

 

On another neighbor, South Korea, the survey showed 62.4 percent said they “do not feel friendly” toward the country, down slightly from 64.5 percent, while those with friendly feelings accounted for 37.0 percent, up from 34.9 percent.

 

On cultural exchanges with other countries, the survey found 40.1 percent said Japan should put the priority on promoting its pop culture represented by anime and manga, compared with 25.3 percent who said traditional culture, such as “ikebana” flower arrangement, tea ceremony and Kabuki, in a question allowing multiple answers.

 

The survey queried 3,000 adults, with 56.7 percent giving valid responses.

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