Public Opinion Survey on the Self-Defense Forces and Defense Issues

Bathing support activity
Bathing support activity

Overall trend

An SDF personnel providing medical support at the time of the earthquake disaster
An SDF personnel providing medical support at the time of the earthquake disaster

The Public Opinion Survey on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and Defense Issues is conducted every three years since 1969 by Cabinet Office to gauge the trend in public perceptions of the SDF and defense issues.

Looking at the overall trend, the latest survey reveals an increasing public interest in defense issues and an increasing positive assessment of the SDF.

It is considered that this trend was influenced by the public’s very high assessment of the efforts especially on the disaster relief activities of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and SDF in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The survey results are summed up that in principle there is a high level of public understanding and support for Japan’s defense policy, and that the public more than ever has a high expectation of the SDF’s role and activities.

Bathing support activity

Evaluation of SDF disaster relief activities related to the Great East Japan Earthquake

Evaluation of SDF disaster relief activities related to the Great East Japan Earthquake

An astounding 97.7% of respondents say they “Appreciate” the SDF’s disaster relief activities, suggesting that the activities are highly supported by a majority of people.

Looking at the overall trend, the latest survey reveals an increasing public interest in defense issues and an increasing positive assessment of the SDF.

In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the MOD and SDF worked tirelessly day and night to provide relief to the affected people and to respond to the nuclear disaster. MOD/SDF believes that the public and the MOD/SDF have never been closer than today, it seems that these factors underpinned the survey results.

Impressions of “Operation Tomodachi” relief activities by the U.S. forces

Impressions of “Operation Tomodachi” relief activities by the U.S. forces

With nearly 80% of respondents saying Operation Tomodachi was “a success” in their impression, many people are believed to have a favorable impression of the Operation.

The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities carried out by a large-scale U.S. troop commitment in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, were vital not only for search and rescue but also for ensuring the livelihood and safety of the affected people.

It is considered that these activities of the U.S. Forces were well received by many of the people in Japan.

Bathing support activity
Exchange with U.S. Forces
Bathing support activity
A U.S. soldier giving a high five with a child

Evaluation of overseas activities by the SDF

Evaluation of overseas activities by the SDFs
Dispatch of the MSDF’s minesweeping unit to the Persian Gulf in 1991
Dispatch of the MSDF’s minesweeping unit to the Persian Gulf in 1991
An SDF personnel interacting with residents in Haiti
An SDF personnel interacting with residents in Haiti

Nearly 90% of respondents say they “Appreciate” the SDF’s overseas operations. It is believed that the overseas activities of the SDF over the past two decades have earned a significantly high level of praise, understanding, and support from the people.

The SDF began to participate in international cooperation with the dispatch of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s minesweeping unit to the Persian Gulf in 1991 as the starting point. Since then over 40,000 SDF personnel have been dispatched to approximately 30 countries and regions, including Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Central America, and contributed to the peace and stability of the international community.

The evaluation results seems a testament to the fact that the accomplishments of these activities have steadily become well recognized among the people.

Views towards Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

81.2% of respondents feel that the treaty is “Helpful”—the highest figure since the survey was started.

This result suggests that a majority of people support the basic defense policy of Japan.

Views toward defense-exchanges with other countries than the U.S.

80.5% of respondents feel that the exchanges are “useful”.

This result indicates that the promotion of defense cooperation and exchanges with countries for the “multi-layered security cooperation with the international community” stated in the National Defense Program Guidelines has earned the understanding and support of many people.

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