August 1, 2019 | By Craig Kafura

In Korea-Japan Dispute, Japanese Public Backs Export Controls

Relations between Japan and South Korea are in freefall, with the two key US allies in Asia engaged in a steadily escalating economic conflict.

The current crisis was sparked by a November 2018 decision by South Korea’s Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of South Koreans conscripted for labor by imperial Japan during the second world war.

Japan argues that these claims were settled in the 1965 treaty reestablishing relations between the two nations, and hinted it would retaliate if the South Korean government did not intervene. When no intervention was forthcoming, Japan decided to impose export controls on key components in South Korea’s semiconductor manufacturing industry.

Japan officially argues that these decisions are matters of national security. Japanese Foreign Minister Kono Taro, in a post on his official website (and translated by JapanForward), denies that these changes in Japanese export controls are retaliation. But the majority of FM Kono’s post deals not with the recent change in export controls, but instead, reviews the history of the 1965 treaty reestablishing relations between South Korea and Japan and past settlements of wartime labor claims. Observers are understandably skeptical that the two issues are unrelated.

As my colleague Karl Friedhoff noted in the Nikkei Asian Review, “It's clear that both sides made miscalculations in letting this get to this point, but are now so invested that backing away is going to be politically damaging.” And Japanese Prime Minister Abe, fresh off electoral victory in upper house elections (albeit one short of what he’d hoped for) is expected to up the ante on August 2 by removing South Korea from its export whitelist, which will force Japanese companies to seek governmental approval before exporting a range of materials to South Korea.

If anyone was looking to the Japanese public to put a brake on this downward spiral of relations, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, they’re behind the government. A Nikkei survey conducted July 26-28 found that 58 percent of the Japanese public supports the Japanese government’s decision to impose export controls for semiconductor materials on their way to South Korea. That’s similar to results from a July 22-23 Yomiuri Shimbun poll, which found that 71 percent supported the decision.

If this dispute continues, it’s not hard to imagine broader effects on public opinion. This could be the beginning of a long downward spiral in bilateral views.

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

Archive

#TBT: That Time We All Feared Chemical and Biological Weapons

In the spirit of Throw Back Thursday, Running Numbers is digging out its archived polls to look back at America’s foreign policy feelings of old. This week, we’re looking at Council data on Americans' perceptions of the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons in the late 90s and early 00s.



| By Dina Smeltz

​Polls Measure So Much More than Voting Intentions

The polling community took a lot heat following the failure of forecasters and data journalists to predict Trump's triumph in the 2016 election. But polls measure so much more than voting intentions says Council senior fellow Dina Smeltz.


| By Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura

Public Opinion in the US and China

There is perhaps no more important bilateral relationship in the world today than the one between the United States and China—the world’s two most important players in terms of economics and security. Where do the Chinese and American publics stand on key issues in the relationship, and what policies do they want to see their respective nations pursue worldwide? 



| By Diana C. Mutz

How Trade Attitudes Changed from 2012-2016

Trade was an important issue in the recent presidential election, but not in the way the media and many prominent observers have led us to believe.  The dominant narrative in the media was that disgruntled manufacturing workers whose jobs had been sent overseas emerged, understandably, as trade’s strong opponents, thus making Trump with his strong anti-trade rhetoric their natural ally.


Who Run the World? Foreign Policy Attitudes on Women and Girls

In partnership with the New America Foundation, the 2016 Chicago Council Survey included two questions developed to provide better insight about the importance of promoting women's rights and women's participation in societies around the world. 




| By Dina Smeltz

The US-Russian Relationship

The 2016 Chicago Council Survey partnered with the Levada Analytical Center in Moscow to ask Americans and Russians how they feel about each other and—more importantly—each other’s government. 


| By Richard C. Eichenberg

Gender Difference in Foreign Policy Opinions: Implications for 2016

There are three patterns in American politics that take on special significance in 2016: the gender divide in Presidential elections; the low support for Donald Trump among women; and the growing discussion in the foreign policy community about the inclusion of women in the policy process. Nonresident fellow Richard Eichenberg explores the extent of gender difference in the 2016 Chicago Council Survey data and assesses the relevance of any differences to this year’s presidential election.