Japanese images of the United States and other nations: A comparative study of public opinion and foreign policy

Date of Completion

January 1998


Political Science, General|Political Science, International Law and Relations




The goal of this research is to test whether or not theories of public opinion and foreign policy can be applied to Japanese attitudes about other nations.^ First, I found that some elements of Japanese national images sensibly changed over time, while other elements of these images remained the same.^ Second, in order to explore political and international determinants of Japanese images of other nations, I employ a regression model. This tests a hypothesis on what determines Japanese trust ratings of thirty-two foreign nations, including the United States. I found that both the political democracy and economic interdependence variables substantially have impacts on Japanese trust ratings of these thirty-two foreign nations. However, national power and cultural similarity are not good indicators for measuring Japanese trust ratings.^ Third, by employing a definitive assessment of Japanese images of the United States and Japanese foreign policy beliefs, I tested a proposition that the general public's foreign policy beliefs are coherently structured. I found that Japanese favorable images of the United States are closely associated with their commitment to Japan's international roles and free trade principles, their optimistic views of the U.S.-Japan partnership, and their high level of support for the U.S.-Japan security cooperation.^ Fourth, the analysis of Japanese images of the United States in the post-Cold War era shows that respondents' sociopolitical demographics are important factors in distinguishing the respondents' views of the United States. I found that the Japanese who have favorable stances on the United States are those from higher family income group, those from the management and professionals group, and those from college-and-over education group. I also found that the Japanese adherents of conservative parties than the Japanese adherents of other progressive parties have higher affective ratings of the United States. In addition, I argue that the aggregate influence of the Japanese of the younger age cohort is of vital importance to overall Japanese stances on the United States. ^