Poll finds trans-Pacific gap on role Japan should play in region

Bloomberg, Kyodo

An expanded military role for Japan is a more popular idea among U.S. citizens than Japanese themselves, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

About 47 percent of U.S. respondents said Japan should play a more active military role in regional affairs, compared with 23 percent of Japanese.

The survey was released hours before a meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo on Wednesday, at which they discussed developing Japan’s role in the alliance.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to bolster Japan’s security posture and strengthen military ties with the U.S. amid the Senkaku Islands dispute with an increasingly assertive China.

Japan and the U.S. are scheduled to complete new bilateral defense guidelines in the coming weeks, and Abe will later this month become the first Japanese prime minister to address a joint session of Congress.

The poll found that 75 percent of Japanese and 68 percent of Americans trust each other.

But while only 30 percent of U.S. respondents and 7 percent of Japanese said they trust China, more in the U.S. said they value economic ties with China than said they value U.S. economic ties with Japan.

About 43 percent of the U.S. respondents said economic relations with China are more important than economic relations with Japan, with the figure rising to 61 percent among those aged 18 to 29.

While the survey showed broad trust between the U.S. and Japan, it found differences between the two populations on their World War II history as the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat approaches.

About 56 percent of U.S. respondents said the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were justified, while nearly 80 percent of Japanese said they were not.

But the poll found differing views among generations in the U.S., with 70 percent of the respondents aged 65 or older saying the atomic bombings were justifiable, compared with 47 percent among those aged between 18 and 29.

“Adversaries in World War II, fierce economic competitors in the 1980s and early 1990s, Americans and Japanese nonetheless share a deep mutual respect,” the center said.

The center said it polled 1,000 people aged 18 or older in each country by telephone from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15.

On Japan’s actions during the war, Americans who think Japan has apologized “sufficiently” accounted for 37 percent, outnumbering those who believe its apologies are insufficient, at 29 percent. Meanwhile, 24 percent of the Americans said no apology was necessary.

Among Japanese, 48 percent regarded the apologies by their country as enough, while 28 percent said their country has not apologized sufficiently. Fifteen percent of Japanese saw no need for an apology.

The poll suggests many Americans are well aware of the issue of North Korea’s nuclear programs but have less knowledge about political disputes involving Japan, China and South Korea.

The issue of North Korea’s nuclear programs was known by 81 percent of Americans, while 60 percent knew about territorial disputes between China and neighboring countries against 39 percent who were unaware of the disputes, the poll found.

Meanwhile 57 percent of Americans said they did not know about Japan-South Korea friction over the “comfort women” issue, while 41 percent said they were aware of the tension.

  • Prashant Kulkarni

    The time decided for’Trinity Test ‘ and implementation on very one month after.. makes some doubt 1- USA was not desirous to throw A bomb in Europe especially on Hitler region because of Radio activity effect in neighbouring besides some Hired German scientists involvement ,2- USA has prejudice for Japan before 1941 and prepared war against Japan but Japan attacked prior to USA preparation..3-Japan war tactics were core and accurate compared to USA or Europeans 4-Bomb might have prepared much before than what they declare as July-1945 and intended for place where Radio activities should be far from original war place 5- USSR might agreed upon because once Japan defeated them though Stalingrad fierce battle made USSR more cruel For Hitler they diverted that by Brutal Raping in BERLIN… Atomic explosion is not an indicator for proving N country.,,As the Hypothesis about ISRAEL nuclear capabilities without TEST,,It means USA got capabilities Much before what they stated as Los almos or Manhattan It means What westerners are playing GAME in middle east. will invite any Asian nation to Join first,,with Bravery and then to Get what Japan suffered…..Asiding Muslim countries Westerners,,,as well as PUTIN ,,by suffering small……IT IS HISTORICAL WARNING TO USA THAT DESPITE ATOMIC BOMBING ON JAPAN WITH BRUTALITIES THEN JAPAN AS WAR CRIMINALS FOR BEGINNERS OF WAR…ALL THESE PAST CHARGES ON JAPAN CONVERTS FOR USA IN IRAQ AFTER 5 DECADES AS WAR CRIMES AND BEGINNER OF WAR IN IRAQ BRUTALITIES IN SYRIA AFGHANISTAN AND UNNECESSARY WAR IN 2003 BY BUSH….SAME ARE LIKE JAPAN IS USA READY TO FACE? HOW LONG USA WILL RUN AWAY LIKE BIN LADEN FROM ACTUALITIES IN IRAQ AFGHANISTAN ?

  • Paul Martin

    THe question is…..would Japan have used the same WMD if they had em first…..?OF COURSE !

  • Ron NJ

    Japan: the kid that gets told repeatedly to stop harassing their Chinese classmate, decides to sucker punch the biggest lad on the block in retaliation, and then holds a grudge for seventy years when he gets laid out.

  • Testerty

    If the Japanese have not slaughtered so many Chinese and Korean civilians before and during WWII, they would not have to fear these two neighbors now.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Of course America wants Japan to get in harms way. American military forces are stressed and fatigued. New flesh and blood are needed. Welcome to modern geopolitical struggle, Japan. Americans are happy you still feel cowed by the atomic attack.

  • Shaun Harrison

    Japans military cost is very low. The reason being is they pay the US for its protection. It makes sense for them not to want a larger role in the area. That would mean they would have increase their defense budget spending which would make economic issue worse. I love Japan and have enjoyed the time i spent there however they can not have it both ways. They either ask the US to leave and we vacate all military bases and they provide their own protection or they they work with the US and take a greater role in security of all the Pacific

  • David Rothauser

    I sense that most respondents have little or no experience of war and even less of nuclear war. The fact that we live in the Nuclear Age registers as a dim memory of an old movie. Of course the US wants Japan to re-arm to become a big player on the world stage. The US started that in 1950 when they told Japan to drop Article 9 of their peace constitution and go to war against North Korea. Today there’s a disconnect between what the Japanese people want and what the current Prime Minister wants. PM Abe is playing nuclear roulette with his own people. The majority of Japanese respect and embrace their very real peace constitution. After all, they’ve been at it for 68 years. It might do well for the US to follow suit. Bring Article 9 to our own constitution. Could we survive 68 years of no war?