TOKYO — Seventy years after the U.S. defeated Japan in World War II, Americans are divided over Japan playing a more active military role in Asia — and most Japanese are opposed.
The results of a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday in Washington, D.C., come as the two countries are finalizing a revision of their mutual defense guidelines that is expected to expand the scope of Japan's military activities in the region.
The telephone survey of 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Japanese also found a high degree of trust between the two nations, a shift from the animosity that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s when the two countries were embroiled in trade disputes.
Some of the findings:
The U.S. government, stretched by global crises and tighter budgets, would welcome greater burden sharing by Japan in regional defense. Americans are less sure: 47 percent back a more active Japanese military in the Asia-Pacific, while 43 percent say, given its history, Japan should limit its role.
Likewise in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing his country to do more, but 68 percent of Japanese respondents favor limiting the military's role, and only 23 percent support expanding it.
56: Percent of Americans who say the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified.
34: Percent who say they were not.
14: Percent of Japanese who say the atomic bombings were justified.
79: Percent who say they were not.
A large majority of Americans viewed Japan as an unfair trader in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, only 24 percent describe Japan's trade policy as unfair in the Pew poll, while 55 percent call it fair. China isn't viewed as badly as Japan was previously, but 48 percent say China is unfair, while 37 percent say it's fair.
WHO IS ABE?
73: Percent of Americans who say they have never heard of Abe.
69: Percent who have never heard of best-selling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.
32: Percent who have never heard of Ichiro Suzuki, Japanese baseball star playing in the U.S. major leagues.
The U.S. survey was conducted in the continental United States between Feb. 12-15 using landlines and cellphones. The survey in Japan was conducted from Jan. 30 to Feb. 12 and used landlines only, which covers 79 percent of Japanese households. The sampling error for the U.S. results is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. For Japan's, it's plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.