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The Peninsula

No One in Japan Likes North Korea

Published June 7, 2013

By Troy Stangarone

Last week we looked at the results of a recent BBC survey of international perceptions of South Korea’s influence. The same survey asked people around the world about North Korea as well and the one thing that really stands out is that no one, not one single respondent in Japan expressed a positive view of North Korea’s influence in international affairs.

Practically speaking, we know that there are supporters of North Korea in Japan among the ethnic Koreans those who immigrated there during the period of colonial occupation and the Second World War. So, someone in Japan does like North Korea. However, it is still eye opening that in a random sample of 1560 people not one person had a positive impression of Pyongyang in international affairs.

In contrast with Japan, 4 percent of South Koreans held positive views, while 6 percent of Americans did. Given the debate that appears to be going on in Beijing over China’s relations with North Korea, it is perhaps not surprising that China was not the nation most favorably disposed towards North Korea. Those would be Ghana (48 percent), Indonesia (42 percent), and Nigeria (36 percent). More Chinese take a positive view of South Korea (44 percent) than North Korea (32 percent) despite the historical ties between the DPRK and China.

Negative views of the DPRK are especially strong in South Korea (90 percent), Australia (85 percent), the United States (88 percent), Canada (79 percent), France (81 percent), the UK (83 percent), Germany (90 percent), and of course Japan which leads the way at (92 percent).

All of this raises an interesting question about North Korea’s actions in recent months. One theory has been that the nuclear test, missile launch and daily rhetoric were about solidifying Kim Jong-un’s leadership domestically. At the same time, North Korea has a history of using provocations to extract concessions from its neighbors. But how do you extract concessions if nations have grown tired of giving into threats and no one in Japan likes North Korea?

Troy Stangarone is the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade for the Korea Economic Institute. The views expressed here are his own.

Photo from Tomomi Sasaki’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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