Poll: Majority of people in U.S., Japan disapprove of how their own governments are handling Iraq
WASHINGTON – Despite many disagreements, people in the United States and Japan have the same general view of how their governments are handling Iraq: More than half in each country disapprove.An Associated Press-Kyodo poll found that 55 percent in the U.S. disapprove of their government’s handling of Iraq and 55 percent in Japan dislike their government’s handling of Iraq.In January 2004, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sent the first installment of troops on a noncombat, humanitarian mission in Iraq, launching Japan’s largest and most dangerous military mission since World War II.Despite strong public opposition to the dispatch and fears that it could draw Tokyo into the war, Koizumi argued that Japan – as an oil-dependent nation – had to bear its share of the burden of rebuilding Iraq and combating terrorism, while supporting its top ally, the United States.More than 500 Japanese soldiers are based in Samawah in southern Iraq, part of a total deployment of 1,000 military personnel in the region on a mission to purify water and repair public works.Japanese officials, who have kept the troops mostly confined to their base because of security concerns, have been debating whether to extend the mission when its authorization expires at the end of the year.”Japan should tell the U.S. that we have already contributed our part and leave Iraq now,” said Hiroshi Nose, a 46-year-old Tokyo resident. “The Japanese people don’t have any idea what they are doing over there or when they are going to come back. Everything seems so unclear and the war seems to be advancing without any clear plans.”U.S. troops have been in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, and more than 1,770 U.S. troops have died in Iraq during that time.”I don’t think we should have gone in there in the first place,” said David Turechek, a teacher from Stratford, Conn. “Iraq was unrelated to things unfolding in Afghanistan.”Turechek said the United States hasn’t “done a lot that’s right” since going into Iraq. “We’ve created a lot of problems for ourselves that weren’t there when we went in,” he said. “There’s an awful lot of chaos and death over there.”Americans who are opposed feel more strongly about it than the Japanese, with 42 percent of Americans strongly disapproving, while 17 percent of Japanese strongly disapprove.About four in 10 in both Japan and the U.S. say they approve of their own country’s Iraq policies.”In order to maintain a good relationship with the U.S., I think Japan should contribute, said Tsutomu Hirabayashi, a 54-year-old Tokyo resident. “We can’t quit the dispatch just because other countries – such as Arab countries – say we should stop.”Lew Berry, 48, of Kittanning, Pa., said he tends to approve of the Iraq mission. “I would just as soon fight the terrorist over there than get bombed over here,” he said.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 plus or minus 3 percentage points.