A record 68 percent of Americans see Japan as a reliable partner, up 1 percentage point from 2003, according to a recent Foreign Ministry poll.
More Americans see economic and trade relations, rather than political or security issues, as a key factor in improving overall bilateral ties, according to the poll of 1,504 people conducted between February and April.
Some 48 percent said Japan is the most important partner for the United States in Asia, up 1 percentage point from the previous year.
The ministry also surveyed leading figures in the U.S. academic, business, government, religious, media and labor sectors, of whom 254 responded. Of these, 89 percent found Japan reliable, down from 91 percent last year.
A Foreign Ministry official said the survey reflected public support in the United States for Japan’s contribution to international efforts to fight terrorism and the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops for reconstruction aid in Iraq.
Sixty percent of respondents said bilateral ties are in excellent or good condition, up from 56 percent, and 44 percent said they will improve further, up from 40 percent.
Forty-two percent of respondents said improvements in economic and trade ties will remain the most important factors in the bilateral relationship, up from 35 percent, while 25 percent of Americans said political and security ties must be strengthened to improve the relationship, down from 32 percent.
Fewer Americans see the current bilateral trade imbalance in Japan’s favor as stemming from factors attributable to Japan, the poll suggested. Thirty-seven percent attributed the trade imbalance to Japan, including barriers to accessing its markets, down from 43 percent in last year’s survey.