According to a survey, more Americans believe that China — rather than Japan — is Asia’s most important partner for the United States.
The survey, commissioned by the Foreign Ministry, reversed the results of a similar survey last year.
The poll, conducted in July and August, found that 76 percent of Americans see Japan as a dependable partner, down from 84 percent in the 2012 survey but still relatively high.
In the poll of 1,000 people aged 18 or above, the annual survey found that 39 percent view China as the most important partner in Asia for the United States, compared with 35 percent for Japan. Last year 50 percent picked Japan and 39 percent picked China.
The 2012 results were partially attributed at the time to wide U.S. coverage of Japan-U.S. cooperation in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, which triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
In a similar survey in 2011, China overtook Japan as the most important U.S. partner in Asia for the first time since 1975.
As to the reasons for choosing China as the most important U.S. partner, 80 percent this year cited trade and economic ties.
Among those who selected Japan, 48 percent cited political and general ties with the U.S. while 39 percent cited trade and economic ties.
In the same survey, fewer U.S. citizens backed the Japan-U.S. security treaty this year than in 2012, with 67 percent saying it should be maintained, down 22 points, and 9 percent opposed, up 2 points. The portion of those who are unsure came to 24 percent, up 20 points.
Among 201 U.S. opinion leaders surveyed in this year’s poll, 43 percent viewed China as the most important partner in Asia for the United States, compared with 39 percent who chose Japan. In the 2012 poll of opinion leaders, 54 percent selected China and 40 percent Japan.
This year’s survey also found that 93 percent of the leaders see Japan as a dependable partner for the U.S., little changed from the 90 percent in the 2012 survey. The figure has consistently topped 90 percent since 2005.
The Harris Interactive poll, which surveyed both the public and opinion leaders, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points.