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








| By Dina Smeltz, Sara McElmurry

Climate Change, Community Hot in Luring Latino Votes

Moving into the 2016 campaign season, savvy politicians are recognizing that Latinos are a growing and complex political force and will work to earn their favor at the voting booth. As politicians in Chicago and beyond look to woo this influential voting bloc, recent surveys have pointed to what could be unlikely talking points for future campaigns:  climate change and community. 



| By Sara McElmurry

Executive Action is Here—Time for a New “Start” on Legislative Reform

Following President Obama’s much-anticipated announcement on executive action on immigration, we turn our attention to the continued need for long-term legislative reform from Congress. While leaders argue we should “start with border security,” here’s what Chicago Council Survey polling tells us about the public’s appetite for immigration enforcement provisions.

| By Craig Kafura

Executive Action: Immigration Policy and Politics

Americans' perception of large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the US as a critical threat and the priority they place on controlling and reducing illegal immigration have both declined substantially over the last two decades. What does that mean for the public's reception of executive action for undocumented immigrants?


| By Dina Smeltz

A Second Look at US-Canada Relations

A recent Globe and Mail article referenced new survey data from Nanos Research/UB Survey characterizing a relationship “adrift” between Americans and Canadians. But a closer look at these and other polling numbers show that it’s not so much that Canadians and Americans are losing interest in cooperating. Rather, it appears that publics in both countries are feeling less threatened by security risks and are therefore less likely to support actions that focus on security and terrorism.