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Publication Date : 16-02-2013
Fifty per cent of Japanese respondents to a recent opinion poll consider Japan-US relations "good" or "very good", an increase from the 35 per cent who said so in the previous poll taken in November and December 2011.
Only 27 per cent said the bilateral ties are "poor" or "very poor", down from 41 per cent in the previous joint poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and Gallup.
This marks the first time the number of respondents with a positive impression of Japan-US relations has exceeded that of people with negative impressions since 2009, when the Democratic Party of Japan came into power.
In the United States, 52 per cent said relations between the United States and Japan at present are "good" or "very good", unchanged from the previous poll.
In Japan, 74 per cent of respondents support the policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet aimed at strengthening the Japan-US alliance.
The improved view among Japanese regarding the bilateral ties is apparently due to the Liberal Democratic Party's regaining power and the ongoing standoff between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The joint opinion poll was conducted in late January in Japan and the United States, before the announcements that a Chinese Navy ship had locked fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defence Force destroyer and a nuclear test had been conducted by North Korea.
Additionally, the percentage of Japanese respondents who consider Japan-China ties to be "poor" or "very poor" increased from 61 per cent in the previous survey to 85 per cent, the highest figure since 2000, when interviews by telephone were first conducted.
Eighty-eight per cent of Japanese respondents said they trust China "not very much" or "not at all", up from the previous survey at 85 per cent and marking the highest figure since the poll incorporated the question in 2004.
The percentage of US respondents who said they trust China "not very much" or "not at all" decreased by one percentage point to 63 per cent.
Concerning the row between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, 82 per cent of Japanese said Japan and the United States should cooperate in coordinating a response to China. In the United States, 57 per cent said the same.
In a multiple choice question regarding North Korea, when asked which issues Japan and the United States should work together on, 93 per cent of Japanese and 91 per cent of US respondents chose "Getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme".
Asked which countries or regions they think could become a military threat to their home country, China topped the list at 79 per cent in Japan for the first time, followed by North Korea at 77 per cent. Multiple answers were allowed.
On the same question in the previous survey, North Korea led responses with 84 per cent, followed by China at 80 per cent.
Concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, the percentage of respondents who believe Japan should join the discussions exceeded that of those who do not think so in both Japan and the United States, with 49 per cent agreeing in Japan and 71 per cent in the United States.
The telephone survey was conducted from January 25 to January 28 in Japan and from January 21 to January 27 in the United States, with 1,001 eligible voters in Japan and 1,005 eligible US voters giving valid answers.