Don’t panic

Pollster Karlyn Bowman, writing at, presents data on Japanese public opinion drawn from a variety of recent surveys (mostly old Pew Global Attitudes polls).

The overall picture — Japanese are generally pleased with relations with the US, displeased about the rise of China — is not altogether surprising, although some findings were unexpected.

First, in response to the question “Do you believe globalization, especially the increasing connection of our economy with others around the world, is…,” 92% of respondents said it was “mostly good for Japan” and only 8% “mostly bad.” In comparison, only 60% of Americans respondents said it was “mostly good” for the US, with 35% saying “mostly bad.” I suspect that this discrepancy says more about the comparative intensity of globalization in the US and Japan than about what Japanese people actually think about globalization. After all, when it comes to things like, say, foreign direct investment in the form of foreign ownership of Japanese firms, the Japanese don’t seem all that thrilled about the greater economic openness that globalization entails. Accordingly, if and when Japan actually globalizes, I would expect more Japanese to feel that it is “mostly bad.”

Second, asked whether “Japan has apologized sufficiently for its military actions in the 1930s and 1940s,” 44% of respondents said “has not,” 40% said “has.” Hey, Ampontan, look: even Japanese think that Japan has more apologizing to do. Perhaps Congress is not altogether out of line — and not just engaging in “vainglorious moral preening” — in asking for another Japanese apology.

Admittedly, these poll numbers aren’t the freshest, and I have to imagine there would be some changes in light of recent events. Nevertheless, they show that basically, fundamentally, relations between the US and Japan are sound, whatever temporary vacillations come along.

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