Poll: Mixed reaction in Asia on whether U.S. would defend them

The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance states that the U.S. will have military bases in Japan in exchange for U.S. defense of Japan if it were attacked. Despite that agreement, slightly more than half of Japanese (53%) say the U.S. would defend them if Japan became engaged in a military conflict. Recent Japanese military developments could be influencing the country’s views. A condition for post-World War II Japan was that it could not use its military outside its own country, but in 2015, that changed when Japan amended its constitution to allow it to use its armed forces outside its border for the first time in 70 years. Fewer than four in 10 Japanese (39%) say it is good that Japan can use its military to help defend another country. Japanese neighbors aren’t supportive of Japan’s new military authority, as 13% of Chinese and 17% of South Koreans say it’s a good idea.

Forty-four percent of Taiwanese say the U.S. would provide military assistance if needed. While the U.S. does not officially recognize Taiwan, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, which states the U.S. can defend Taiwan. This geopolitical relationship was highlighted recently when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwan’s president — something no U.S. president or president-elect has done since the U.S. established relations with China in 1979. Forty-eight percent of the Taiwanese approve of U.S. leadership, while 36% approve of Chinese leadership.