More than half of the Japanese public doesn’t trust the U.S. government, but 59 percent of Americans consider Tokyo trustworthy, according to a joint public perception survey by Kyodo News and the Associated Press.

The survey, conducted earlier this month to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, covered 1,045 respondents aged 20 or older in Japan and 1,000 aged 18 or older in the United States.

Japanese distrust of the U.S. was up 26 percentage points, reaching 52 percent, from a similar survey in 1991, shortly after the Gulf War. The figure appears to reflect rising concern about the unilateralism of President George W. Bush’s administration on foreign and security policy.

On the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, 75 percent of the Japanese surveyed said it was unnecessary, while 68 percent of the U.S. respondents said they were unavoidable to bring the war to a rapid conclusion.

Those in the U.S. who have “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” views toward Japan accounted for 81 percent of the total, exceeding the 68 percent of Japanese who indicated the same attitude toward the U.S.

Most respondents on both sides of the Pacific think bilateral relations will remain intact over the next several years, but only 25 percent of the U.S. and 3 percent of the Japanese respondents believe ties between the two countries will improve.

Concerning the possibility of another world war in their lifetime, 60 percent of the people in the U.S. said it is “very” or “somewhat” likely, compared with 35 percent of Japanese.

On North Korea, 74 percent of the U.S. respondents think it poses a threat to world peace, compared with 59 percent in Japan.

A difference of opinion was also seen over U.S. military bases in Japan. Of U.S. respondents, 74 percent said the military presence should be maintained and 22 percent said it should be removed. Of Japanese respondents, 47 percent said it should be maintained, the same percentage who said it should be removed.

On Iraq, 56 percent of Japanese respondents and 55 percent of U.S. respondents indicated negative views about their governments’ actions.

The survey found 65 percent of Japanese and 69 percent of U.S. respondents are in favor of Japan becoming a permanent U.N. Security Council member.

In the economic field, 54 percent of Japanese respondents said the U.S. is their country’s most important partner. The American respondents’ No. 1 choice was China, at 39 percent.

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