U.S. still considers Japan top partner in Asia: poll

by Reiji Yoshida

Japan is still the United States’ most important partner in Asia, according to an annual public opinion poll commissioned by the Japanese government, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

U.S. public opinion on China as a key partner, however, is continuing to rise.

The poll of the American public’s views of Japan was conducted by the Gallup Organization between February and March and drew responses from 1,506 people.

Among people 18 or older, 48 percent chose Japan as their country’s most important Asian partner, up 3 percentage points from last year.

But 34 percent of the respondents chose China, up 1 point from last year’s poll and the highest ever. In 1995, only 14 percent viewed China as America’s most important partner, compared with 55 percent for Japan.

This year’s poll found that 74 percent of Americans think Japan is “a dependable ally or friend,” the highest rating since 1960, when the Foreign Ministry began the survey.

During the 1980s, when fierce trade disputes marred bilateral ties, the figure fluctuated around 50 percent. It began rising after 1995 and has since topped 60 percent.

Foreign Ministry officials said the results reflect the recent strength of bilateral ties.