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Survey shows Japan is seen as leading threat

Apr 17,2005
In a national survey examining which country Koreans feel most threatened by, Japan jumped to the top spot over the United States and North Korea.
According to the poll of 800 Koreans done last week by Research and Research, a survey company, 37.1 percent of respondents said they feel Japan is the greatest threat to Korea.
North Korea was the second most threatening country at 28.6 percent, followed by the United States at 18.5 percent and China at 11.9 percent.
The company’s poll in January last year found that 39 percent of the respondents said the United States was the most threatening country to Korea. At the time, only 7.6 percent of those surveyed counted Japan as most threatening.
“It seems that the current territorial dispute between Korea and Japan over the islands of Dokdo, and the history textbook issue are dominating all other factors and influenced Koreans’ concerns about national security,” a researcher at the polling company said yesterday.
When asked with which country Korea should cooperate the most in terms of national security, 60 percent of respondents named the United States, followed by China at 16.5 percent, North Korea at 8.1 percent, and Japan at 3.5 percent.
Of the respondents who said the United States is threatening, 29.2 percent were in their 20s and 26.4 percent were in their 30s. Only 13. 7 percent in their 40s and 8.1 percent in their 50s said the country threatens Korea.
While there were more respondents this year who showed a positive attitude toward the United States than last year, they also answered that the South Korea-U.S. alliance has become unsteadier over the years. In the poll, 77 percent said the alliance had seriously deteriorated over the last two years.
Respondents were divided over the future of the alliance.
Those who supported the idea that “the Korean government should become more independent, even if it means that the alliance gets worse,” made up 35.1 percent; 38.5 percent said the alliance needed to be further cemented.
Three quarters of the respondents in the survey said they believed North Korea possesses nuclear weapons. But slightly more than half of them said inter-Korean economic cooperation and South Korean aid to North Korea should continue, regardless of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons.
Those in favor of this were predominantly governing Uri Party supporters in their 30s and 40s; those against were largely opposition Grand National supporters, aged 50 or over.


by Ahn Sung-kyoo


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