Five in 10 Americans consider their country's future relations with China more important than those with Japan, as against 3.3 who believe the opposite, a survey by the Asahi Shimbun suggests. The Japanese daily early this month polled 1,009 Americans.
In a similar survey in 1999, the proportions were 47 percent for Japan and 36 for China, but China's rapid economic growth seems to have turned the tables.
The younger or wealthier Americans were, the more important they considered China. In the under-29 age group, 60 percent chose China over Japan, and among those who earn over US$150,000 the figure was 70 percent.
Meanwhile, in a separate survey of 3,000 Japanese by the daily around the same time, 32 percent said China is a threat. The percentage has been rising from 8 percent in 2001 and 13 percent in 2005.
The largest group of people or 49 percent still believes North Korea is the biggest threat to Japan, but at this rate China could overtake it in the near future.
Seventy-two percent of respondents stressed the need to strengthen Japan's ties with the U.S., while 15 percent were for keeping the U.S. at a distance.
That is a huge swing from 52 percent and 34 percent in a similar survey in May. The surge in the U.S.' popularity was apparently prompted by Tokyo's deepening territorial disputes with China and Russia and a series of provocations launched by the North.