Japanese hopes to play a leading role in Asia are endangered by a growing split between its views and those in other countries in the region. In its most recent survey on global values, the Dentsu Institute for Human Studies depicts a pessimistic country that is groping toward an uncertain future.*

Japan's dark outlook toward the future provides the most distinguishing contrast with other Asian nations. While a mere 31 percent of Japanese respondents said their country would be better in 10 years, almost 90 percent of Chinese (89.7 percent), and more than two-thirds of South Koreans (77.2 percent), Thais (77.2 percent) and Singaporeans (79.8 percent) saw a brighter future for their nation.

Curiously, Japan's dour outlook was closer to that of Western nations, but Japanese pessimism was more severe than that found in the United States (where 59.5 percent envisioned their country improving in a decade), Britain (39.7 percent), France (48.1 percent) and Germany (41.2 percent).