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Eighty-five percent of Americans support the Japan-U.S. security treaty, while Japan’s closed markets topped the list of reasons a trade imbalance exists between the two countries, according to an annual poll released Friday.

The Foreign Ministry poll on U.S. attitudes toward Japan was conducted in the United States in March by Gallup on 1,509 members of the general public and 375 opinion leaders. The results show that 61 percent of the general public and 85 percent of experts thought of Japan as a dependable ally and friend.

The survey reveals that most Americans think the bilateral alliance is important for the security of the U.S., getting a positive response from 89 percent of the general public and 82 percent of the opinion leaders.

But fewer Americans had a favorable opinion of Japan and their outlook on the future relationship between Japan and the U.S. dimmed slightly compared with a year ago.

Among the general public, 40 percent of the respondents said they have a favorable opinion of Japan, down 3 percentage points from a record high last year, while the figure for opinion leaders was 75 percent, a drop of 4 points.

Asked how they see the future bilateral relationship, 45 percent of the general public said they think it will improve, down from 49 percent last year, while 10 percent indicated they think it will worsen, down 2 points.

While many cited economic ties with Japan as the main reason for having a favorable view, 44 percent of the general public and 52 percent of opinion leaders surveyed said Japan’s market access problem is the main reason for the bilateral trade imbalance.

Overall, a trend of positive attitudes toward Japan continued in the latest survey, a ministry official said.

The reason most cited among those who did not find Japan dependable was past incidents between the two nations, such as the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. This was followed by the belief that Japan only cares about its own interests.

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