Poll: Japanese, South Koreans view Trump poorly but have mixed views on US

WASHINGTON • People in Japan and South Korea have mixed views of the United States but generally negative views of President Donald Trump.

As in other countries surveyed by Pew Research for its new report on international perception of the US and its President, the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus appears to have damaged the US' image.

In South Korea, 93 per cent think the US did a bad job in managing the pandemic. In Japan, the figure is 79 per cent. Mr Trump enjoys his highest rating in Japan, but only a quarter of Japanese polled expressed a positive view of him.

A higher 41 per cent of Japanese still have a positive view of the US, though that is also down sharply from 68 per cent last year.

Favourable views of the US in South Korea have been in steep decline since last year, yet it is the only country surveyed where a majority still holds a positive opinion.

But trust in President Trump has dropped from 2018 when his policy towards North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un - amid the Singapore summit held in June that year - earned him support in the south.

"South Koreans' confidence in Trump more than doubled from 2017 to 2018 and remained at that level in 2019," Pew said. "That year, 78 per cent of Koreans approved of Trump's policy to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about the country's nuclear weapons.

"Current ratings are back to their 2017 low: Only 17 per cent believe Trump would do the right thing regarding world affairs."

But South Koreans separate their view of Mr Trump from their view of the US. South Korea "stands out as the only country surveyed where a majority (59 per cent) views the US positively", Pew found.

While China is the most common choice as a global economic leader in nearly every other country surveyed, a majority of 77 per cent in South Korea believe the US holds that spot.

With European countries surveyed, "people who place themselves on the right of the ideological spectrum in general have a more positive view of the US than people on the ideological left", Pew Research found. "This ideological divide is particularly large in Spain and South Korea," Pew said.

Nirmal Ghosh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline 'Poll: Japanese, S. Koreans view Trump poorly but have mixed views on US'. Print Edition | Subscribe