May 24th, 2012
10:13 AM GMT
Japan has won back its top spot as the most important partner of the United States in Asia, moving China to the second spot, according to an opinion poll of the "general public" conducted in the United States.
The survey asked 1,200 people in the continental United States to select the most important U.S. partner from a list that included Japan, China, Russia, India, Korea and Australia.
Half said Japan was the United States' most important partner in Asia, up from 31% last year and ahead of Beijing for the first time since 2009. The most popular reason for putting Japan ahead was its political and general ties with the U.S.
By contrast, 39% of the respondents chose China as the most important partner - unchanged from last year.
The survey also polled 200 opinion leaders, among whom 54% put China in first place, while Japan took second place with 40%, up from 28% last year.
"Whoever chose China as most important basically did so for economic reasons, rather than political ones," Hajime Kishimori of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Wall Street Journal.
The survey also showed that 84% among the general public surveyed think Japan is a dependable U.S. ally, while 90% of opinion leaders polled regard Japan as such.
Opinion leaders held positions in the fields of government, business, academics, mass media, religion and labor unions.
Similar surveys have been conducted almost every year since 1960.
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