TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s popular perception of the country’s ties with the United States worsened significantly this year, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday, battered by U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostile trade policies.
The annual poll by Gallup and the Yomiuri newspaper showed the proportion of Japanese people who see the relationship between world’s largest and third-largest economies as “good” posting its largest decline since 2000.
Since his campaign to become president in 2016, Trump has complained about Japan’s $69 billion (54.48 billion pounds) trade surplus with the United State, particularly in the autos sector, which accounts about 75 percent of the imbalance. Washington and Tokyo are set to start fresh trade talks early next year.
The poll, which was taken between Nov. 26 and Dec. 3, showed 39 percent of Japanese respondents think the relationship between Japan and the United States is “good”, down from 56 percent in last year’s survey.
It was the biggest fall since 2000. Another 39 percent say the relationship is “bad”, up from 23 percent.
Across the Pacific, 50 percent of U.S. respondents in the poll think the relationship is “good”, unchanged from the previous survey while 11 percent think ties are “bad”, little changed from 12 percent last year.
Thirty percent of Japanese say they trust the United States, down from 39 percent in the previous survey and the lowest rate since 2000, but 70 percent of American say they trust Japan, the poll showed.
The deterioration in Japan’s public perception of the United States coincides with sharp disagreement with Trump’s trade protectionism.
Some 75 percent of Japanese say Trump’s demand for Tokyo to reduce its trade surplus with the United States is unreasonable, the poll showed.
On the other hand, 64 percent of Japanese see the security alliance between the two nations as useful for safety in Asia-Pacific region, compared with 70 percent of Americans, the poll showed.
Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sam Holmes