The Genron NPO Poll 2016:The Future of Northeast Asia and Public Opinions

March 22, 2017


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The opinion surveys The Genron NPO conducted in 2016 pertain to the issues of peace in Northeast Asia, national sentiments toward each other's country and mutual understanding, and the challenges the world faces regarding democracy.

The annual opinion surveys are carried out jointly with our counterparts in China and South Korea. The joint polls with China have been held for 12 years since 2005 while those with South Korea have been held for four years since 2012. The findings of the joint polls with China provide valuable data as there is no other long-term survey in the world that follows Chinese people's mind-sets and views about China's policy issues.

In parallel with these survey results, The Genron NPO and our Chinese counterpart have been organizing large private-sector bilateral dialogues since 2005 by bringing together influential people from Japan and China, and those with our South Korean counterpart since 2012. The Tokyo-Beijing Forum, our annual dialogue with China, has become increasingly influential in both countries as a venue for effective private-sector diplomacy between the two countries.

We have been conducting private-sector dialogues based on the findings of these opinion surveys as we attach particular importance to public opinion in the countries concerned in realizing a peaceful and stable environment in Northeast Asia.

In the Northeast Asia region, the spread of nationalistic sentiments is becoming a major obstacle to solving issues through intergovernmental channels of negotiations, resulting in frequent vacuums in intergovernmental dialogue. The attempt to address given challenges on the basis of public opinion and with the backing of many citizens is commensurate with the approach of citizen participation in political democracy.

Aside from the bilateral joint opinion polls, The Genron NPO newly organized a joint opinion poll involving Japan, China and South Korea in 2015, focusing on the future and peace of Northeast Asia. The three-nation joint poll was launched against the backdrop of what we called the "No-War Pledge," which was adopted at the annual Tokyo-Beijing Forum in 2013. At that time, we proposed spreading the motivation behind the pledge to the whole of Northeast Asia. To this end, we considered it necessary to trace public opinion trends regarding peace in neighboring countries.

The Genron NPO is an independent, not-for-profit think tank created 15 years ago with the mission to strengthen Japanese democracy and civil society. Therefore, it is quite natural that we take the ebbing of democracy in the world seriously. Indeed, the organization's raison d'etre is being put to the test. This is why The Genron NPO carried out a multi-nation opinion poll concerning democracy.

We are adherents of the important role of public debate and public opinion in sustaining democracy, and of the creation of an environment in which many citizens are able to participate in efforts to solve pending issues as "stakeholders." We have taken up the new challenge of solving problems pertaining to democracy, and the advancement of freedom and democracy.

In 2016, we conducted a joint opinion poll involving Japan, India and Indonesia, Asia's major democracies, while carrying out a separate survey covering elites in Japan.

This report describes the findings of these four opinion surveys. We sincerely hope that this will be a useful source of information for the progress of peace and democracy in the Asian region.

Yasushi Kudo
President, The Genron NPO

Opinion Poll Archive

  ⇒ Japan-China-ROK Opinion Polls (2016) Reveal Views on Future of Northeast Asia
  ⇒ The 12th Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll Analysis Report on the Comparative Data(2016)
  The 4th Japan-South Korea Joint Public Opinion Poll (2016) Analysis Report on Comparative Data
  ⇒ Asia in the Age of Uncertainty (multinational opinion poll report by Chicago Council on Global Affairs)

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