Poll: Americans divided on stronger Japanese military in Asia

The results of a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday in Washington, D.C., come as the two countries are finalizing a revision of their mutual defense guidelines.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP/File
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (r.) walks by a mock-up of the F-35 fighter jet during the annual Self-Defense Forces Commencement of Air Review at Hyakuri Air Base, north of Tokyo, in Oct. Seventy years after the US defeated Japan in World War II, Americans are divided over Japan playing a more active military role in Asia - and most Japanese are opposed.

Seventy years after the U.S. defeated Japan in World War II, Americans are divided over Japan playing a more active military role in Asia — and most Japanese are opposed.

The results of a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday in Washington, D.C., come as the two countries are finalizing a revision of their mutual defense guidelines that is expected to expand the scope of Japan's military activities in the region.

The telephone survey of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Japanese also found a high degree of trust between the two nations, a shift from the animosity that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s when the two countries were embroiled in trade disputes.

Some of the findings:

MILITARY DIVISIONS

The U.S. government, stretched by global crises and tighter budgets, would welcome greater burden sharing by Japan in regional defense. Americans are less sure: 47 percent back a more active Japanese military in the Asia-Pacific, while 43 percent say, given its history, Japan should limit its role.

Likewise in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing his country to do more, but 68 percent of Japanese respondents favor limiting the military's role, and only 23 percent support expanding it.

A-BOMB DIVIDE

56: Percent of Americans who say the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified.

34: Percent who say they were not.

14: Percent of Japanese who say the atomic bombings were justified.

79: Percent who say they were not.

TRADING PLACES

A large majority of Americans viewed Japan as an unfair trader in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, only 24 percent describe Japan'strade policy as unfair in the Pew poll, while 55 percent call it fair. China isn't viewed as badly as Japan was previously, but 48 percent say China is unfair, while 37 percent say it's fair.

WHO IS ABE?

73: Percent of Americans who say they have never heard of Abe.

69: Percent who have never heard of best-selling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.

32: Percent who have never heard of Ichiro Suzuki, Japanese baseball star playing in the U.S. major leagues.

___

METHODOLOGY

The U.S. survey was conducted in the continental United States between Feb. 12-15 using landlines and cellphones. The survey in Japan was conducted from Jan. 30 to Feb. 12 and used landlines only, which covers 79 percent of Japanese households. The sampling error for the U.S. results is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. For Japan's, it's plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.