Skip to main content

American Public Backs US Military Presence in Japan

Blackhawk helicopter taking off from an operating base.
Reuters

This report says that Americans remain supportive of the US military presence in Japan.

Introduction

President Trump’s longstanding skepticism toward US alliances and the coming negotiations over Japanese support for American troops in Japan could strain the relationship. Despite the challenges ahead, Americans remain supportive of the US military presence in Japan and say the US-Japan relationship strengthens US security.

Key Findings

At the highest level, the relationship between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has been cordial and at times productive. The two leaders have met often, and in October the United States and Japan signed a trade agreement focused on agriculture and digital trade. However, President Trump’s longstanding skepticism toward US alliances and the coming negotiations over Japanese support for American troops in Japan could strain the relationship. Despite the challenges ahead, Americans remain supportive of the US military presence in Japan and say the US-Japan relationship strengthens US security.

  • A majority of Americans (57%) say the United States should maintain or increase its military forces in Japan.
  • Americans’ rating of Japan’s global influence has risen slightly over the past year to an average of 5.9 out of ten, up from 5.7 in 2018.
  • Eight in ten Americans (78%) say the US relationship with Japan strengthens US national security.
  • While a majority of Americans continue to oppose using US troops in a conflict between China and Japan over disputed islands (55%), support has risen steadily in recent years and is now at an all-time high (43%).

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2019 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy, a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. The 2019 Chicago Council Survey was conducted June 7-20, 2019 by IPSOS using their large-scale nationwide online research panel, KnowledgePanel, among a weighted national sample of 2,059 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is ±2.3, including a design effect of 1.1607. The margin of error is higher for partisan subgroups or for partial-sample items.

Additional results come from the 2018 Chicago Council Survey, conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research panel July 12-31, 2018 among a weighted national sample of 2,046 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is ±2.37, including a design effect of 1.1954.

Partisan identification is based on respondents’ answer to a standard partisan self-identification question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?”

About the Author
Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Council expert Craig Kafura
Craig Kafura is the assistant director for public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Security Fellow with the Truman National Security Project, and a Pacific Forum Young Leader. At the Council, he coordinates work on public opinion and foreign policy and is a regular contributor to the public opinion and foreign policy blog Running Numbers.
Council expert Craig Kafura