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Japanese children named the United States as the country they most want to visit and said they are more interested in the U.S. and its people than any other foreign country, according to a recent survey.

The Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation compiled the survey results after submitting questionnaires to 430 elementary school and junior high school students who have participated in a foreign cruise program run by the foundation.

The Tokyo-based foundation, which released the survey results ahead of Children’s Day on Sunday, said 33 percent of respondents named the U.S. as the country they most want to visit. Fifteen percent nominated Australia, while 9 percent nominated France.

Some 49 percent of respondents also said they want to befriend Americans above all other nationalities, according to the survey. Seventy-two percent nominated English as their preferred second language.

Three Americans — U.S. President George W. Bush, actor Brad Pitt and basketball star Michael Jordan — topped the list of foreign personalities that respondents said they recognized.

Only a third of respondents expressed a desire to study abroad, however, while a quarter said they wanted to work overseas in the future, according to the survey.

The foundation’s cruise programs are aimed at nurturing children’s physical and mental development.

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