Japanese, S. Koreans Lean Toward U.S. for Security Cooperation

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The joint survey found that a clear majority of respondents in both Japan and South Korea thought their nation should cooperate with the United States when it came to standing up to the military threats presented by China and Russia, a repeat result from the previous survey conducted in 2022.

The security environment surrounding Japan and South Korea remains severe, and the United States is calling on its allies and partner countries to work together to counter these military threats.

Sixty-four percent of Japanese respondents thought their nation should cooperate with the United States, rather than respond independently, to deal with these issues, down slightly from the 67% in the previous survey. In South Korea, 66% of respondents supported cooperation with Washington on this issue, down from 77%.

When asked whether Japan, South Korea and the United States should work together in a trilateral response if China launched a military invasion of Taiwan, 66% of Japanese respondents and 56% of South Korean respondents – a majority for both – said “yes.”

More than half of respondents who identified as conservatives or moderates said they thought Tokyo, Seoul and Washington should work together in the event of such an invasion. However, 49% of liberals did not support such cooperation, edging out the 46% who did.

At the end of 2022, the Japanese government revised three key security documents, including the National Security Strategy, and decided to bolster the nation’s defense capabilities to reflect changes in the international situation. These documents also specified that Japan could possess counterstrike capabilities to destroy enemy missile launch sites and other military targets for self-defense.

According to the survey, 60% of Japanese respondents supported the nation’s possession of counterstrike capabilities, whereas 32% opposed it. However, this change in Japan’s capabilities was not warmly received in South Korea, where 65% of respondents opposed it and just 26% supported it. A majority of ruling and opposition party supporters in Japan backed the possession of counterstrike capabilities, but in South Korea, opposition to this change was the dominant view regardless of respondents’ political orientation.

When asked whether the United States or China would become more important for their nation in the future, a majority of Japanese and South Korean respondents selected the United States. In Japan, 65% chose the United States (down from 69% in a 2019 survey) and 24% plumped for China (up from 18%). In South Korea, 63% selected the United States (down from 66%) and 29% went for China (up from 27%).