American Views of Asia and the Future of the US-Japan Alliance
Analysis of the 2012 Chicago Council Survey on American Public Opinion and U.S Foreign Policy
By Michael J. Green
Center for Strategic and International Studies & Georgetown University
The 2012 Chicago Council Survey
on American Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy provides important context for thinking about the future of the US-Japan alliance. These are the first Chicago Council results on American attitudes towards Japan and Asia since the tragic March 11, 2011, Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the implosion of the newly elected Democratic Party of Japan, and the Obama administration’s announcement of a strategic “pivot” to East Asia. The results show a real disconnect between the hyperbolic debate about Asia in Washington, D.C., and the somewhat calmer and longer-term view of the region that appears to prevail throughout most of the country. Where many inside the Beltway see a rapidly rising and threatening China and a hopelessly drifting Japan, Americans elsewhere seem to appreciate that China’s rising power is not necessarily a threat, that Japan continues to be a powerful and trusted ally, and that more can be done to cement our relationship with Japan and the region through strengthening alliances and promoting trade. Taken together, that is a good recipe for a long-term American strategy for the region and a more robust agenda with Japan.
This essay is based on a series of survey questions on Japan that is part of a larger Chicago Council Survey on American public opinion and U.S. foreign policy. The essay that follows is the author’s own interpretation of the Council’s survey results.