- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 24, 2005

Americans are far more likely than the Japanese to expect another world war in their lifetime, according to polling 60 years after World War II ended. Most people in both countries believe the first use of a nuclear weapon is never justified.

Those findings come six decades after the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The war claimed about 400,000 U.S. troops around the world, more than three times that many Japanese troops and at least 300,000 Japanese civilians.

Out of the ashes, Japan and the United States forged a close political alliance. Americans and Japanese now generally have good feelings about each other. But people in the two countries have very different views on everything from the U.S. use of the atomic bomb in 1945, fears of North Korea and the American military presence in Japan. Some of the widest differences came on expectations of a new world war.

Six in 10 Americans said they think such a war is likely, while only one-third of the Japanese said so, according to polling done in both countries for the Associated Press and Kyodo, the Japanese news service. “Man’s going to destroy man eventually. When that will be, I don’t know,” said Gaye Lestaeghe of Freeport, La.

Some question whether that war has arrived, with fighting dragging on in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism. “I feel like we’re in a world war right now,” said Susan Aser, a real estate agent from Rochester, N.Y.



The Japanese were less likely than Americans to expect a world war, less worried about the threat from North Korea and less inclined to say a first strike with nuclear weapons could be justified. “The Japanese people take peace for granted,” said Hiroya Sato, 20, of Tokyo. “The Japanese people are not interested in things like war.”

President Truman decided to try to end the war by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki three days later. Those bombings led to Japan’s announcement on Aug. 15, 1945, that it would surrender.

Two-thirds of Americans say the use of atomic bombs was unavoidable. Only 20 percent of Japanese felt that way and three-fourths said it was not necessary. Just one-half of Americans approve of the use of the atomic bombs on Japan.

People in both countries overwhelmingly perceive the other country favorably now. Four in five Americans have an upbeat view of Japan and two-thirds of Japanese feel that way about the United States.

Since the war, the U.S. military presence in Japan has come to be accepted in most of Japan, but stirs resentment on the island of Okinawa. The Japanese are evenly split on whether the U.S. troops should stay or go, the polling found. Three-fourths of Americans said this country should keep its military in Japan.

The poll of 1,000 adults in the United States was conducted for the AP by Ipsos, an international polling company, from July 5-10, and the poll of 1,045 eligible voters in Japan was conducted for Kyodo by the Public Opinion Research Center from July 1-3. Each poll has a margin of sampling error of three percentage points.

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