INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Polls Indicate Support for U.S.-Japan Alliance

Published: Thu 7 Dec 2006 01:13 AM
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB
DE RUEHKO #6878/01 3410113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070113Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8922
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 1211
UNCLAS TOKYO 006878
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/PD, EAP/J, EAP/P, INR/R/AA MARSHALL
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA
HQ USPACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR
COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA FOR DIRECTOR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS
SEOUL FOR CPAO/IO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP OPRC KPAO KPLS JA
SUBJECT: Polls Indicate Support for U.S.-Japan Alliance
At All-Time High
1. (U) The results of the annual Yomiuri Shimbun-Gallup
Poll released on December 2, 2006 indicated that support
for the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is at an all-time high
among Japanese, with 66 percent of respondents indicating
that the security treaty is useful to Japan, up 4 percent
from a year ago. Some commentators have attributed the
strong support for the treaty to rising anxiety in Japan
caused by the North Korean missile and nuclear bomb tests
this year and to the strong personal ties between
President Bush and former Prime Minister Koizumi.
However, polls sponsored by the State Department Office
of Research (INR/R/AA) and Embassy Tokyo indicate that
the upward trend in support for the alliance began before
North KoreaQs missile and nuclear bomb tests of the last
six months and that the strength of support for the
alliance does not rely on strong personal ties between
leaders.
2. (SBU) The Yomiuri-Gallup Poll (a telephone survey
conducted in both Japan and the United States) is a much-
watched snapshot of attitudes in both Japan and the U.S.
that was conducted this year in mid-November. Results
regarding support for the security treaty were published
in the Yomiuri Shimbun on December 2, 2006. They confirm
an upward trend in public support for the treaty that was
apparent before the provocative North Korean missile
tests in July and nuclear bomb test in October, although
reaction to these events is doubtless a factor in the
rise. Polling conducted by the State Department's Office
of Research (INR/R/AA) in conjunction with Embassy Tokyo
in late May and early June 2006 indicated that eight-in-
ten Japanese favored maintaining the security alliance
with the U.S. Meanwhile, large majorities thought it was
important for the U.S. to maintain its military presence
in East Asia (73 percent vs. 21 percent) and bases in
Japan (67 percent vs. 27 percent) in order to maintain
regional peace and stability. Seven-in-ten (72 percent
vs. 23 percent) said U.S. forces in Japan are important
for JapanQs defense. Smaller majorities (ranging from 51
percent to 57 percent) said the same in 1995-96, when
this question was last asked.
3. (U) In a similar vein, the Yomiuri-Gallup poll asked
what should be done about the troop strength of U.S.
forces in Japan and 46 percent said it should be
maintained at its current level, up 8 points from last
year's survey. This figure marked another all-time high.
Meanwhile, 35 percent said troop levels should be
reduced, down 8 points from last year. The same question
has been asked seven times in the past, but the
proportion of opinions calling for the troop strength of
US forces in Japan to be sustained at its current level
topped that of opinions calling for reductions only in
the survey conducted in 2001 following the terrorist
attacks in the United States.
4. (SBU) Views on security issues occur against a broader
backdrop of overall positive views of the U.S., so this
upward trend in favorable views is good news for the
whole relationship. The May-June sample taken by the
Office of Research and the embassy also showed that three-
fourths had a favorable opinion of the U.S., unchanged
since the fall of 2005; 77 percent thought that relations
were in good shape Q off slightly from a November 2005
peak (86 percent).
5. (SBU) The broad strength of the U.S.-Japan
relationship also appeared in an embassy-sponsored
Internet poll conducted in early June 2006. This survey
found that 58 percent of respondents saw the personal
relationship between President Bush and Prime Minister
Koizumi as important to bilateral ties, while seven-in-
ten believed that Japan's alliance with the U.S. would
remain "about the same as now," while only one-in-ten saw
a new prime minister making the alliance stronger.
6. (U) Although recent polling is positive, last yearQs
Yomiuri-Gallup poll indicated that there are weak points
in public perceptions of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
Since 2002, for example, the Yomiuri-Gallup poll has
indicated that less than 50 percent of Japanese Qtrust
the U.S. Yomiuri analysts interpret this to be tied to
negative views of the war in Iraq, contention over the
realignment of U.S. bases in Japan, and the after effects
of the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto treaty. Since the 2005
poll showed that 53 percent of Japanese do not trust the
U.S., it will be interesting to see the 2006 poll result
on this question when the rest of the Yomiuri-Gallup poll
is published later this month.
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