Yomiuri-Gallup poll: Two-thirds of people in Japan, U.S. in favor of Japan strengthening defense

The Yomiuri Shimbun

About two-thirds of people in Japan and the United States are in favor of Japan strengthening its defense capabilities, according to a joint survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun and U.S. polling firm Gallup Inc.

Survey respondents also said Russia was the biggest military threat to both nations.

In the survey, 68% of respondents in Japan and 65% in the United States backed stronger defense capabilities for Japan. A majority of respondents in both countries said they hope Japan will expand its role in maintaining security in Asia.

Japanese and Americans both felt that Russia posed the greatest military threat to their nations. When asked to name countries or regions that posed a military threat, 82% of Japanese respondents picked Russia, up from 57% in a similar survey conducted in 2020, and 79% of Americans did so, up from 61%. Multiple answers were allowed.

Among Japanese respondents, 82% also selected North Korea, up from 73% in 2020, followed by China at 81%, up from 77%. Among U.S. respondents, 77% selected China, up from 64%, and 70% picked North Korea, up from 68%.

When asked if the U.S. should intervene militarily to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese military invasion of the island, 72% of Japanese respondents said yes.

U.S. President Joe Biden has been supportive of using American forces to protect Taiwan, but public opinion in the United States is divided on this issue: 48% of American respondents were in favor of the U.S. military intervention and 45% were opposed.

Regarding whether the United States should increase military aid to Ukraine as the war with Russia rumbles on, 59% of Japanese and 55% of Americans said yes.

The proportion of Japanese respondents who felt Japan-U.S. ties were good climbed from 51% in 2020 to 58% in the latest survey, equaling a high set in 2015 after the current polling method was adopted in 2000.

Twenty-five percent of Japanese respondents said ties were bad, down from 27% in 2020. In the United States, 51% of respondents said ties were good, inching up from 50%, and 11% felt they were bad, down slightly from 12%.

Respondents were also asked whether they had confidence in 15 core public institutions and organizations.

In Japan, the three most trusted institutions were the same as those selected in the 2020 survey. In the latest poll, 78% of respondents picked hospitals, up from 74% in 2020; 72% cited the Self-Defense Forces, up from 70%; and 64% selected the courts, up from 57%.

In the United States, the military has remained the institution in which Americans felt most confident in 22 consecutive surveys since 2000. In the latest poll, 79% of respondents trusted the military, down from 86% in the previous survey. Hospitals, which were tied with the military in the previous survey, slipped to second this time, at 76%.

“The church or organized religion” was the institution that suffered the biggest loss of confidence in the United States. In the previous survey, 68% of respondents trusted the church, but the figure tumbled to 56% in the latest poll.

The decline was especially sharp among Democratic Party supporters — 37% this time, down from 63%. This figure appears to reflect growing antipathy among pro-choice Democratic Party supporters toward the Catholic Church over its opposition to abortion, which was a major issue in the November midterm elections.

The survey was conducted by phone on eligible voters across Japan and the United States, with landline and mobile phone numbers selected by random digit dialing.

The Japanese survey was conducted from Nov. 18 to 20, with responses obtained from 1,051 people (52% women, 48% men). The U.S. survey was conducted by Gallup from Nov. 14 to 20, with responses obtained from 1,002 people (50% women, 50% men).