Wednesday, April 02, 2008

All the World Loves Japan Except China and South Korea… and Japan?

The Yomiuri headline says it all: Global poll: Japan has most positive influence in world. According to a BBC Service Poll* (conducted by PIPA and Globescan, you can download it here)*, “Japan remains one of the countries with the most positive ratings, though this year it comes a close second to Germany. Among the tracking countries, on average a majority (56%) views Japan’s influence in the world as mainly positive, while one in five (21%) view Japan’s influence negatively (statistically unchanged from 2007). Twenty-one countries give a positive rating, while two give a negative rating (two neighbours: China and South Korea) and one country is divided (Mexico).” (Actually, Mexico gives Japan a positive rating, so twenty-two tracking countries give Japan positive ratings.) Germany also has a 56% positive rating but it barely beats us out with a 18% negative rating. It is obvious that if the Chinese and South Koreans didn’t hate us so much, we would easily be No.1. I have no idea what the Mexicans have against us.

What is remarkable is that only 36% of the Japanese respondents think that Japan is a positive presence. (15% negative, in case you wondered.) In fact, the Japanese figure was by far the lowest among those of all the countries where the question was asked. America gave itself the next lowest mark - the war in Iraq must be taking its toll - but still had 56% of their respondents answering in the positive for their homeland. That’s a 20 percentage point gap!

The tepid Japanese response does not necessarily mean that we have low self-esteem, though, since high (49%) “depends” “neither, neutral” and “DK/NA” quotients appear across the board where Japanese opinion is concerned. For the US, it’s Japan 41%, 23 tracking nations average 18%; for Germany, Japan 51%, 22 tracking countries average 26%; and so on. We have a more nuanced view of the world, don’t care much, or both. For what it’s worth, Indians appear to have an even greater sense of detachment/nuance for the rest of the world, but also a clearer sense of self-worth (59% positive).

It also appears that killing whales hasn't hurt us where the opinions of Australians
are concerned. Perhaps those kangaroos are giving them second thoughts.

* the Japanese Yomiuri claims that it is a BBC-Yomiuri survey. The actual report does not mention Yomiuri at all. To be fair to Yomiuiri, it does not list any news organizations/polling businesses that cooperated in taking the polls.

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