GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
TOKYO, JAPAN -- A Gallup Japan public opinion poll shows that the Japanese people doubt a nuclear war is likely within the next decade, as well as downplay the chances that Japan might be the target of nuclear attack by some country.
By contrast, while Americans share the Japanese doubts about the likelihood of a nuclear war in general, they are twice as likely as the Japanese to believe their own country could be the target of a nuclear attack.
Gallup Japan conducted a poll in July, 1998 on "The Ownership of Nuclear Weapons and the Threat of Nuclear War" through its Tokyo call center.
This poll, in the interest of comparing differences in awareness between Japan and the U.S., incorporated questions from a poll on nuclear war conducted by The Gallup Organization in the U.S. in early June, 1998.
Summary of Poll Findings
- According to the poll, 82% of Japanese believe the development
of the atomic bomb was a bad thing, compared with 61% of
- In both Japan and the U.S., two in three felt there was little
chance of a nuclear war breaking out within the next ten years.
However, 36% of Americans felt that it was "very likely" or "fairly
likely" that the U.S. would be attacked by another country using
nuclear weapons, compared with just 16% of Japanese who felt this
way about Japan being attacked.
- When asked to evaluate the threat to world peace posed by
specific nations that currently either have, or could have, nuclear
weapons, both Japanese and Americans believed Iraq and Iran to be
leading threats. Japanese also felt that North Korea would also be
serious threats, while Americans pointed to Pakistan.
- Nearly 90% of all Japanese said there was no need for Japan to
possess the atomic bomb in the future. In other words, almost 10%
felt that Japan would need nuclear weapons.
- Regarding the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 65% of respondents sought further reductions in nuclear capabilities, noting that "fewer countries should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, and restrictions should be tightened."
Four in five Japanese believe that the development of the atomic bomb was a bad thing. Two in three Americans feel the same way.
- 82% of all Japanese feel that the invention of the atomic bomb
was a bad thing.
- While all major societal groups examined in the poll feel the
development of the bomb was bad, Japanese men and adults in their
twenties and thirties are about twice as likely as women and older
Japanese to say that development of the atomic bomb was a good
- On balance, Americans also feel that the development of nuclear weapons was a bad thing, but by a much narrower margin than in Japan. Overall, Americans are more than twice as likely as the Japanese to consider the bomb a good thing (36% vs. 15%).
Japanese: "Even if a nuclear war were to break out somewhere in the world, Japan would be safe." Americans: "The U.S. might be attacked in the event of a nuclear war."
- When Japanese respondents were asked about the possibility that
their own country would "get into a nuclear war within the next 10
years," the largest percentage, 39%, said it was "very unlikely."
Taking into account those who felt such a war was "fairly
unlikely," a total of 65% believe there is little chance of nuclear
war involving Japan within the next ten years.
- When respondents were asked about the possibility of Japan
being attacked by another country using nuclear weapons within the
next ten years, 83% responded that such a scenario was
- Therefore, a majority of Japanese believe that a nuclear war is
unlikely to break out in the near future and that, even if it does,
Japan would not be attacked.
- Americans had similar opinions regarding the possibility of
nuclear war. However, one in five felt it was "very likely" that
the U.S. would be attacked with nuclear weapons within the next ten
years. When this group was combined with those who felt it was
"fairly likely," 36% of Americans felt that such a scenario was
likely to happen. In other words, Americans are more likely than
Japanese to be worried that their country would be involved if a
nuclear war were to break out.
- Among Japanese, women and those in their twenties and thirties were more likely than were respondents in other groups to think that it was likely ("very likely" & "fairly likely") that their country would be attacked with nuclear weapons.
Japanese believe that the nuclear capabilities of Iraq, Iran and North Korea seriously threaten world peace.
- When asked which of 13 countries* with nuclear capabilities
represented threats to world peace, Japanese were most likely to
answer Iraq, followed by North Korea, Iran, and Israel.
- In the wake of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, a slightly
higher percentage of Japanese felt threatened by Pakistan than by
- The U.S. was ranked tenth out of the thirteen countries, but 53% of the respondents still felt that it represented a threat to world peace.
*The 13 countries were drawn from the nine countries included in a poll conducted by The Gallup Organization in June 1998 (Russia, Great Britain, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Brazil, Iraq, and Iran), countries that have already announced that they possess nuclear weapons (U.S., France, Great Britain, Russia, and China) and countries thought to be currently pursuing nuclear weapons development programs (Iran, Libya, and North Korea - from The 21, April 1996).
Both Japanese and Americans Feel Threatened by Iraq and Iran
- When the results of the Japanese survey were compared with
those of the U.S. poll, Americans tended to group the 13 countries
into those considered threats to world peace (such as Iraq, at 89%)
and those not considered threats (such as Great Britain, at 13%).
Japanese, on the other hand, tended to view all nations with
nuclear weapons capabilities as potential threats.
- Both Japanese and Americans felt that Middle Eastern nations like Iraq and Iran posed threats and that such countries as Brazil and Great Britain did not represent major threats. However, Japanese were considerably more likely than were Americans to view Israel and India as potential threats.
Nine in Ten Japanese Believe That Japan Does Not Need the Atomic Bomb
- When asked whether Japan needed nuclear weapons capabilities**, 89% of Japanese said "No." Still, 9% felt that Japan does need to have its own nuclear weapons capability.
**Respondents were instructed to answer for nuclear weapons and not for the fuel used in nuclear reactors.
Two in Three Japanese Feel That Treaty Guidelines Should Be Strengthened
- When asked whether the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be continued, fully 65% of Japanese believed that "fewer countries should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, and restrictions should be tightened." Only 22% felt that the Treaty should be maintained in its present form.
The Gallup Japan Poll
- Area Surveyed: Tokyo metropolitan area
- Sample Frame: Men and women aged 20 and older
- Sample Size/Composition: Designed to provide 500 valid
responses (gender and age were matched to demographics for Tokyo
By Gender Male: 250 (50.0%) Female: 250 (50.0%) By Age 20-29: 115 (23.0%) 30-39: 90 (18.0%) 40-49: 94 (18.8%) 50-59: 88 (17.6%) 60 and older: 113 (22.6%)
- Methodology: Telephone survey conducted at Gallup Japan call
- Time Frame: July 11-15, 1998
The Gallup U.S. Poll
- Area Surveyed: United States (nationwide)
- Sample Frame: Men and women aged 18 and older (1,003)
- Time Frame: June 5-7, 1998