The world is shifting, but when will Japan be reacting?


A recent article of the Nikkei Shimbun showed that Americans view China as the most important partner in Asia (public opinion poll by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, polled 1,200 average Americans over age 18 and 200 experts). The most common response on who Americans considered as their country’s most important Asian partner 39% answered with China, while 31% said Japan. Although I have shown in previous articles Asia’s youth is admiring Japan, it seems to me the rest of the world has already shifted. It was the first time that in this poll China has been ranked above Japan. Asked then why they had chosen China, 43% of respondents mentioned strong trade and economic relations, but then for Japan solely the political ties came up with 29%. Do note that the connection with Japan is not perceived on a business connection, but due to historical/political events.
Solely looking at the response of the experts, the situation shows even a wider gap: 46% picked China while 28% chose Japan. While opinions of Americans do not reflect the global opinion, but still it gives me a sense that a shift from Japan to China has already taken place. Furthermore considering that this poll was done before the “Eastern Japan Great Earthquake”, I expect the polls to show even a wider gap if done now.
Most likely I am a too big of a dreamer, when I can imagine a Japan as a proactive economic power with a labor force that cares about the future of the country. I guess the first step at the moment for the Japanese society to become aware of the constant changing global economic impact to Japan and then react swiftly. Somewhen later on we can hopefully start with a proactive approach.

A lone dreamer of a bright future of Japan,

Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

7 thoughts on “The world is shifting, but when will Japan be reacting?

  1. This month’s Voice conducted a public poll looking among other things at Japan’s China policy. Polling on three questions in particular are interesting for what they say about the bipolar character of Japanese feelings about dealings with China. The polls reveal that Japanese want a friendly relationship with China.

    • Dear Hemp,

      thank you very much for your support. I have to confess I am not sure exactly what you are talking about, so your further explanations would be helpful.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again,

      Sibylle Ito

  2. Hmm, as much as I want to be more upbeat about this, it’s very difficult.

    “Apathy” と “Absolutely not on the average persons radar” は日本語で何とい言う?

    • Dear Jason,

      great to hear from you, when I appreciate your comment.
      The points you are mentioning, plus most likely the language barrier and “historical island thinking” does not allow the “average Japanese” to look at the economic situation from an Asian perspective. We can only hope there will be a shift someday and let’s pray it will be in the near future.

      All the best for the melting hot Tokyo,

      Sibylle

    • Dear Elle Marie,

      Personally I think the labor cost difference from China to abroad is decreasing and is less likely the cause. I believe media in the US plays a big part, although Japan was in the news the weeks after the disaster, overall general news or business topics in regard to China is shown more often. The US trade deficit is always mentioned at the same time as China. Apart from the disaster, challenges with Toyota or Sony, I think Japan pops up quite seldom in the news in the US. I could be wrong about the reason though.

      Trying not to melt in Tokyo,

      Sibylle

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