Poll in four Asian democracies finds Japanese the most pessimistic about future

Kyodo

Japanese are the most pessimistic about the future of their country among people in four Asian democratic countries, a joint survey by think tanks showed Monday.

The other three nations were India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Forty-eight percent of Japanese respondents said they are pessimistic, up from 39.8 percent last year, citing “no effective measures against a declining birthrate and aging population” as the top reason for their perception. Some 31.3 percent said they are optimistic, up 10.6 points.

The result contrasts with other countries polled in the survey, in which 89.2 percent of respondents in Indonesia, 60.1 percent of those in India and 50.7 percent of those in Malaysia said they are optimistic about the future of their respective nations.

In last year’s survey, which included India and Indonesia, Japan was also found to be the most pessimistic.

Genron NPO President Yasushi Kudo said at a joint news conference that the survey showed respondents having relatively low trust in political parties and the Diet but higher trust in institutions such as the military and police.

The survey also covered South Korea but people there were not asked about their feelings about the future of the country.

“There’s a concern that perhaps democracy, which develops through engagement of citizens, is not functioning,” Kudo said.

In response to a question about expectations for the United States in exerting leadership for liberal order and democracy in the world, 66.5 percent in India, 56.3 percent in Japan and 53.3 percent in Indonesia said they have hopes for its leadership.

On China, more than 60 percent in Japan and India said they do not expect the country to exert leadership, while Indonesians were divided, with 45.0 percent saying they do and 46.6 percent saying they do not.

“Indonesians actually need Japan as a balance to China … that’s why you see expectations from Indonesia for Japan to take a leading role,” said Ati Nurbaiti, senior editor of The Jakarta Post.

Nurbaiti, who took part in the survey, was referring to the result showing that 57.3 percent of Indonesians say they expect Japan to exert leadership.

The survey, covering a total of 6,843 people, was conducted by Genron NPO, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, Observer Research Foundation in India, Merdeka Center in Malaysia and East Asia Institute in South Korea. It was conducted between June and August in the five countries in person, by phone and online.