China top pick for ‘important partner’ among ASEAN countries

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Then Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi attends an online meeting of the Japan-ASEAN foreign ministers in August.

Japan came in second as an “important partner for the future” in a recent opinion poll conducted among people living in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Foreign Ministry’s annual survey showed a plurality of respondents, or 48%, chose China as an important partner from among the Group of 20 nations, followed by 43% choosing Japan.

It was the first time since a 2008 survey that China surpassed Japan. In the previous survey in 2019, 51% of respondents chose Japan, while 48% chose China. China’s deepening economic ties with ASEAN countries in recent years likely impacted the outcome.

The ministry hopes to foster understanding of Japan on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN relations in 2023.

The ministry commissioned a Hong Kong research firm to conduct the poll online in January. Responses were received from a total of 2,700 people aged 18 to 59 in all of the ASEAN states except for Myanmar.