Well, the news is out, and it's good news.

Between October 2005 and January 2006, the BBC World Service conducted a poll to find out which countries were considered in a favorable light. Nearly 40,000 people in 33 countries responded, choosing Japan as "the country that has the most positive influence on the world." Only two nations taking part did not regard Japan highly: China and South Korea.

This overall sanguine result was referred to by Foreign Minister Taro Aso in a speech he delivered April 28 at Digital Hollywood University, an educational institution located not, as its name would suggest, in Anaheim, the California haven for ardent Disney fans, but in Akihabara, the Tokyo refuge for armies of post-analog geeks. In his speech, Aso waxed enthusiastic about Japan's future as a cultural leader around the world.