Take our user survey and make your voice heard.

Balance of intelligence factors makes Japan the world’s smartest country, according to this list

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Being Japanese sure has its benefits. For example, the Japanese have the strongest passport in the world, which gives them the chance to go just about anywhere they like without much trouble. More interestingly, however, the also have the privilege of being the smartest people in the world, according to a recent statistic analysis done by UK-based site Vouchercloud.

Vouchercloud ranked dozens of countries from all over the world based on a number of factors, including number of Nobel Prizes won, average IQ scores, and the average educational scores of its students. The combination of these factors, which apparently represent the intelligence of past, present, and future generations, respectively, led Japan to take the top spot.

It’s fairly understandable why Japan would be considered the smartest country, given that they ranked fifth for educational success and sixth in the world for the average IQ. We’re also not surprised, given that Japanese grad students recently solved a 2,000-year-old mathematical problem. But what cinched victory for Japan was the 26 Nobel Prizes under its belt, the sixth highest in the world.

The rest of the top 10 are a mixture of Asian, European, and North American countries:

  1. Japan
  2. Switzerland
  3. China
  4. U.S.
  5. The Netherlands
  6. Russia
  7. Belgium
  8. U.K.
  9. Canada
  10. South Korea

China, by comparison, has the second best average IQ score, at 105.8, but their twenty-first place ranking in Nobel Prizes (having won just nine) bumped it down below Switzerland, whose higher number of Nobel Prizes earned them a higher spot.

The U.S. tops the rankings of Nobel Prize winners with its whopping 368 wins (almost three times that of the UK, who retains the number two spot), but with a subpar ranking of test scores (seventh) and a poor performance in average IQ (28th), they fell down to the fourth overall position.

Interestingly, South Korea only barely broke the top 10, despite being fourth in IQ and second in test scores. They have only earned one Nobel Prize, a factor which dropped their score significantly.

Clearly, a country’s number of Nobel Prizes carried a heavy weight in Vouchercloud’s calculations, otherwise Asia would have dominated the top five. Overall, the Asian countries swept the table with their overall high IQs and test scores. Singapore, in fact, dominates both, with a national IQ of 107.1, and with more than 71 percent of their students attaining advanced scores. Sadly, as a young and small country, they haven’t attained any Nobel Prizes, which caused them to be named the 25th smartest country, in spite of it all.

Vouchercloud’s list only covers the top 25 countries, all of which, besides Australia, were in East Asia, Europe, and North America. It’s worth noting that Africa, South America, and West, South, and Southeast Asia (besides Singapore) aren’t represented on the list at all, and that’s likely because many of the developing or conflict-riddled countries in those regions have no way to measure the IQs and test scores of their citizens. Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure in many places makes it harder for them to provide the services needed to support their intelligent citizens enough to produce a Nobel Prize. As the world changes, however, we might see more success come out of those regions in the future.

That being said, it looks like East Asia will be dominating the top scores for a while, especially considering the high average IQ and test scores for students all across the region.

Source: Vouchercloud via Livedoor News via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Twitter user reveals a method to judge manga and anime writers’ IQ

-- Vegetables are smarter than fruits: Three high IQ Japanese veggies

-- Chinese census finds hard facts about the differences between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Yes... the Japanese memorize a massive amount of information but they learn very little in the process.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

While the Nobel price can be a factor to measure intelligence, I don't believe test scores is, especially since exams in japan are extremely easy.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The "science" behind this "study" is laughable, but it is hardly surprising as "Vouchercloud is Europe’s biggest mobile voucher app, allowing shoppers to save money on well-known international brands, independent retailers and local services." In other words, it is simply not credible. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that Vouchercloud is planning on moving into the Japanese market in the not too distant future.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

You beat me to it, Bruce. Voucherland, comedy gold.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If Japan's so smart, how do you account for its work-life balance?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

You want is really is interesting? When there is an international study showing Japan is doing poorly for example gender equality, none of the comments doubt the validity of the study. However, when there is an international study showing Japan is doing well. For example, the Vouchercloud study and the Us News study showing Japan is second best place in the world to live, all the comments read Bogus. It tells me one thing, the haters are going to hate.

In the words of Jay Rock:

You might wanna keep score (score), Japan wins, wins, wins, wins.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Don't you think it's strange that Israel, which has more PhDs per capita than any country in the world, didn't make the top 10?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

It's an odd result given that Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft - all US companies -- are the dominating standard-setters in the global hi-tech, information-based society.

Higher-ranked Switzerland has given the world the cuckoo clock, while Japan's greatest invention is instant noodles.


-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Voucherland? Seriously? You mean, like Groupon?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"Don't you think it's strange that Israel, which has more PhDs per capita than any country in the world, didn't make the top 10?"

Because Israel's educational is ranked at the bottom by the Oced.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

When Japan bans noisy polluting 2-stroke scooters then I will entertain the idea of the Japanese as being ‘smart’

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"Higher-ranked Switzerland has given the world the cuckoo clock, while Japan's greatest invention is instant noodles."


By the way you know that Japan invented the following:

Lithium-ion batteris, IPS, Camera phone, IPS cells, Digital single-lens reflex camera,Digital single-lens reflex camera,Fiber-optic communication,Microcomputer, Microprocessor

and many others.

Haters going hate.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Do we really want to get into a contest on contrived statistics made on small sample sizes and hold no real factual evidence aside from Nobel winners?

Isreal is one of the lowest ranked. Yet, many companies and countries typically laud over their education system. Tech companies seem them as a model for Math and Science education.

iQ tests have been proven to be inaccurate.

Many Nobel prize winners have an Israeli background but naturalized years later. Many believe this is to secure funding for projects.

These statistics are just that. Not fact. Just something to induce viewership.

4 ( +6 / -2 )


"By the way you know that Japan invented the following....camera phone"

No, I didn't probably because, as Wiki states:

The CMOS active pixel sensor "camera-on-a-chip" developed by Eric Fossum and his team in the early 1990s achieved the first step of realizing the modern camera phone..... more than 90% of camera phones sold today use CMOS image sensor technology

Eric R. Fossum...is an American physicist and engineer... currently a professor at Thayer School of Engineering in Dartmouth College.

"Haters going hate."

And truthsayers are gonna say.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

These kind of studies have practically no interest, as they can arrange the figures to have it mean whatever they want, giving arbitrary weights , taking in account or not purposely certain figures.

Some studies can be discussed because althought they kind of reflect reality, we can question why some figures are weighed higher than others.

In any case, there is always an ulterior motive behind such studies, or you would say an agenda.

But many other studies are just so out of touch, you clearly understand they hide many negative aspects on purpose from their studies.

Need examples ?

Do you know why the West is dominating "gender equality" and Japan is scoring so low in it ? It's not because Japan treats women particularly badly compared to men. No. It's because Japan has not (yet?) fallen to the hysteria of the LGBTTQQIAAP 32+ "genders", or some would say 2 genders & 30+ "mentals disorders". That's the only reason. And the agenda behind such rankings is to enforce LGBTTQQIAAP propaganda towards those low ranking countries.

Have you seen a few weeks ago UK top ranking in protection against child abuse ? They got to be kidding ! When you know all of the rampant child-grooming all over the place in the UK, thousands of white young girls being drugged, gang-raped by Pakistani, for more than 30 years, all of that being well known and overlooked by authorities, because many people in the authorities were also abusing children !

Have you seen a few years ago Sweden top ranking the world as the best country to live for women ? They got to be kidding ! Stockholm being the world or world 2nd rape capital !? You can't seriously exclude the fact that Stockholm (capital and 1st largest city in Sweden), Gothenburg (2nd largest city) and Malmö (3rd largest city) are top ranking Europe's rape capitals, and almost top ranking world's rape capitals (behind South Africa) when you talk about "best country to live as a woman" !

Almost every ranking is like this. Deciphering the ulterior motive, or the agenda behind such "studies & rankings" is, in my view, the only interesting thing to look at. Everything else almost doesn't matter at all.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )


Japan hasn't invented anything.

Japanese scientists, engineers and inventors, on the other hand, have been behind many great inventions. Unfortunately, they're not really the ones you've listed.

For example, while the first commercial production of the Li-ion battery was by Sony and Asahi Kasei, to say that Japan invented it is perhaps overstating the case a wee tad.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Almost every ranking is like this. Deciphering the ulterior motive, or the agenda behind such "studies & rankings" is, in my view, the only interesting thing to look at. Everything else almost doesn't matter at all.

Must be a scary life when you are afraid to trust anything.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So if, according to Vouchercloud, Japan is the smartest country in the world, how do they account for the gender inequality and regular government and business scandals?

It would seem to me that the smartest people in the world wouldn’t allow for such exploitative sexism and the constant re-election of the same incompetent bureaucrats.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


see my post above, I explain the "gender equality" rankings


when you believe that Japan is ranking as low as many African & Middle East muslim countries towards "gender equality", without understanding that such rankings have nothing to do with the treatment of men & women in society, but rather with LGBTTQQIAAP enforcement agenda, then that must be quite scary indeed.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Even if it were true that Japanese have the highest IQ, a stat I strongly question, what value does it have if business and society is designed to quickly kill it. How is Japan using it to make Japan great again? These geniuses are allowing themselves be exploited by their own people here at home; look at the brain drain stats.

Anyway, if it makes them feel good believing they’re the smartest on earth, then let them continue living in their bubble.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just finished writing about 70,000 words of comments — observations and advice — for 51 contestants in an All Japan English Speech contest held by E.S.S. students at Tokyo University ... https://todaihai2018.themedia.jp

This is my 3rd time as a preliminary judge for the Tokyo University contest, and 13 years for other schools in the Tokyo area including other 'Ivy League' schools such as Waseda, Keio, and Sophia.

One of my contentions with the Tokyo University student committee is their dependence on trying to quantify the quality of a speech with an Excel spreadsheet.  But they insist on student autonomy, and like other English Speaking Society groups, appear to have no desire for an academic advisor, or advice from judges.  

I gave my advice freely — because I also have a policy of offering my service as a judge, freely — as an unpaid volunteer, and insisting they double my honorarium and donate it to an NPO of their choice.

My unheeded advice for this year was over a 10 point allocation regarding the significance of a speech.

As their spread sheet indicates:

‘Siginificance' … Whether he/she succeeded in passionately conveying the significance of his/her speech. (10 points)

I tried to point out ...

1 - the definition of ’significance’ is circular. Using the same word in its own definition is a logical tautology. Nonsense. Like defining ‘Big’ as ‘passionately big’.

2 - 'Significance' is spelled wrong.

This does not look good for an All Japan English Speech contest, especially one held by Tokyo University students.

And these are 'the best and brightest' of the smartest country in the world?

I am inclined to agree with Chomsky and Ernst Mayr ... human intelligence is most likely an evolutionary spandrel, a mere by-product of a social primate, and our shelf life as s species has just about run its course.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

 "Vouchercloud is Europe’s biggest mobile voucher app, allowing shoppers to save money on well-known international brands, independent retailers and local services."

What next, the world's top business schools, brought to you by Pokemon Go?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My very own top 10

1 Estonia

2 Norway

3 Denmark

4 Latvia

5 Sweden

6 Lithuania

7 Iceland

8 Hungary

9 Slovakia

10 Belarus

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

And using the Nobel Prize as a salient variable of national I.Q. ???  

WTF ???

I recommend Thomas Friedman's 'The Politics of Excellence' ... a look at the dark underbelly of the secret nominating process for the Nobel Prizes in the sciences.  

A blunt example, did you know that the theory behind the accuracy of your GPS, relativity theory, did not gain Einstein a Nobel Prize? He was awarded a Nobel later for the photoelectric effect, as a 'consolation prize' for having been earlier passed because of anti-Jewish sentiment.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Higher-ranked Switzerland has given the world the cuckoo clock, while Japan's greatest invention is instant noodles.

But few use cuckoo clocks these days, while we still eat instant noodles.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Hmmmmm.......    Clearly a pretty ridiculous "statistic analysis" that has little bearing on the real world.  Only have to live in Japan to realize just how unworldly and un switched on plenty of folks here are.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

1 - the definition of ’significance’ is circular. Using the same word in its own definition is a logical tautology. Nonsense. Like defining ‘Big’ as ‘passionately big’.

What I am really interested in knowing is the alternative you offered. Sure, you can play games and try to change "significant" to "important/importance" on one of the sides, but I must admit an alternative that would really avoid this problem is not readily forthcoming to me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

China and Japan having high IQs makes sense to me because I think using kanji is inherently more difficult than Western writing systems

I think that could be one reason for a higher average IQ.*

Unfortunately learning to read has not been shown to increase underlying intelligence. IQ tests done on very young children demonstate the IQ advantage of Northeast Asians even before they are taught to read. Even if you take an evolutionary view and propose that people of higher intelligence who mastered Kanji had some reproductive edge over the illiterate in ancient times, Kanji and literacy itself are relatively new phenomena in Asian/human history. It's likely far too recent and limited to have any noticeable effects on average population intelligence.

The most widely accepted theory for explaining Northeast Asian intelligence is that they evolved in extremely harsh winter climates in Siberia where being more intelligent would ensure survival. Asians also have physically larger average brains compared to any other human population. Brain size correlates with IQ at around 0.3-0.4.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Actually, according to science, Ashkenazi Jewish population have the highest average IQ. Of course just mentioning this biological fact is enough to get people booted out of tenured positions in universities. But it remains a fact.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What I am really interested in knowing is the alternative you offered. Sure, you can play games and try to change "significant" to "important/importance" on one of the sides, but I must admit an alternative that would really avoid this problem is not readily forthcoming to me.

Hi Kazuki

Good question. And relevant to any definition of the world's 'smartest' country.

I only wish more students would tackle that question.

A few years ago, I attended a forum at Tokyo University regarding Education in the 21st Century. One of the guest speakers was the former Dean of Helsinki University. His short story about his process of maturation from that of a researcher with personal ambition to an educator, culminated with this short statement. 'The purpose of the 21st Century University should be to solve 21st Century problems'.

I thought about that. A lot.

I boiled this down to two sides of essentially one problem ... human nature.  

We are a social primate that have reached herding populations, sometimes swarming, and periodically outstrip our limited natural resources prior to each war or Malthusian catastrophe. Stephen Hawking, Ernst Mayr, Noam Chomsky ... among many other thinkers of renown have questioned which will come first ... extending our swarm's unlimited needs to offworld resources? Or self-destruction fighting over what's left?

As a corollary, a social primate as our own has emergent group psychology that can not be reduced to a sum of individual temperaments.  

Particularly worrying is that when we exceed small community numbers, morality tends to become rule driven rather than empathy driven. But rule driven hierarchies give an advantage to dark triad personality types ... narcissists, machiavellian opportunists, and psychopaths. The moment a system is made, a handful will begin figuring out ways to game the system to their advantage ... and to hell with empathy. Research seems to suggest that these dark triad types are pretty evenly distributed throughout the world, and I would guess this temperament is more salient for group dynamics than I.Q. scores.

Getting back to the question of a provisional, working definition for 'significance' — if a University sponsored speech contest is to have significance as an event grounded in educational ideals, how about this for a start?

A speech's significance could be correlated with two things about human nature which is intimately connected with 21st century problems:

1 - Empowering the marginalized. Wether addressing the working poor, foreign minorities, the aged, the handicapped, or gender equality ... making 'diversity' more than just the buzzword of the moment.

2 - Holding authority accountable .... whether it be the ruling LDP, a Nissan chairman, or a Dean ... all institutions need to be as subject to even more relentless self-critique than we apply to ourselves as individuals. For as individuals, we tend to be empathetic by nature. But as institutionalized cogs in a machine, especially those at the top, tend to take on dark triad behavior patterns. It is by chance that 'structural reform' is the most common refrain heard in the news regarding human institutions. You NEVER hear 'structural reform' applied to communities because that is the difference between a community and an institution ... one is held together by empathy (omoiyari) ... the other by (structure) rules.

These two points, empowering the marginalized and holding authority accountable, seem to have been particularly strong with the historical European 'Enlightenment' values ... but with mission creep/drift ... seems to have gotten lost along the way.

Far Eastern cultures may have an even bigger hurdle because Confucian social engineering in the form of a meritocracy seems to stifle challenges from the bottom up. You don't see much political humor in the Far East.

A real meritocracy would work great, but like Western institutions, mission creep/drift have insured that the appearance of a meritocracy is more important than identifying and valuing real quality. I guess standardization is simply a more efficient way of dealing with large populations .... but quantification of quality always results in a loss of richness of data.

I was dismayed by how so few of the speeches connected with what they should be learning in class, or could be seeing by looking at the world news.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Rounding out the bottom 4 in this survey are Israel, Czech Republic, France and Singapore.

I imagine those countries, if asked about this survey, would just go "Pffffff!"

2 ( +3 / -1 )

These surveys are not meant to be the ultimate word carved into stone on the various topics and phenomena they purport to observe. Rather, they are meant to stimulate discussion and, in all likelihood, entertain (or annoy) readers of popular journals of opinion.

That being said, the Japanese have a long and rich intellectual history to be proud of, one that these Westerners—would that humility were as natural to them as their habitual grumbling—could themselves profit from. That Japan exists as we recognize it today is virtue to the enormous intellectual (and physical) toil of their forefathers to reorganize their nation into one that was the equal of any Western one, doing so not once, but twice. It is enough to be acquainted with Japanese literature, cinema, or its music—traditional as well as their splendid, but still woefully underrepresented contribution to Western classical music—to understand the intellectual potency of this culture, one that justly rivals anything created in the West.

It is too bad that many Japanese, at least in my personal interactions, tend to be rather sheepish about their nation’s intellectual achievements, especially when among foreigners or a foreign setting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So if, according to Vouchercloud, Japan is the smartest country in the world, how do they account for the gender inequality and regular government and business scandals?

Not to mention a legal system straight out of the middle ages.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Intelligence has nothing to do with political correctness or ethics: It is a human trait that functions separately from and often in spite of them.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There's book smart, and there's street smart

A balanced person should have both

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This article should have been titled, "Joke of the day"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There's no doubting Japan has smarts, but like all tests we shouldn't really read too much into such as indicators of the absolute.

The ICI - Intelligence Capital Index - perhaps a little more credible than Vouchercard in the world of nouse analysis, for example ranks USA #1 and Japan #11.

Other IQ ranking systems consistently place Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong in Top position.

The website TOPLISTS places Singapore #1 and doesn't list japan in the top 10.

The point is most of these lists are based on simplified data tweeking, putting particular emphasis on specific characteristics such as Nobel Prize recipients. A high population, modern, developed country stands to have a greater chance of more Nobel Prizes than a low population, modern, developed country.

For me some of the greatest characteristics of smart societies in no special order are -

The ability to create sustainable environments (urban, rural, etc) on human scales.

The ability to think laterally - outside of the box - to not dutifully follow the common road - to make choices.

The ability to enable a continuous love and experience of "life long learning" - open free education.

The ability to have a world awareness and see how ones space fits into that world - to empathize.

The ability to listen and reason and know your own faults and inadequacies and how to remedy them.

The ability to create a social platform for creativity and innovation in all walks.

And many more.

Smarts are about far more than standardized tests.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

iQ tests have been proven to be inaccurate.

This is just not the case. No mainstream psychologist would agree with this statement. While there can be some debate about the extent to which any particular test of cognitive ability measures underlying intelligence, the test scores remain the best single predictor of job performance, educational success, relative poverty, and dozens of other life outcomes. In other words, even if you dispute that tests of cognitive ability measure underlying intelligence fully (or at all), you are left with the fact that whatever it is that they are measuring (assuming it's not intelligence) has tremendous predictive validity for life outcomes.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

For the data, this is the list of Nobel prize winners by country:

CountryNumber of Nobel laureates

 United States 375

 United Kingdom 129

 Germany 108

 France 39

 Sweden 32

 Japan 27

 Canada 26

  Switzerland 26


 Soviet Union 25

 Austria 21

 Netherlands 21


A particularly intersting fact s that 22.5% of all Nobel prize winners are Jewish, depsite making up a tiny percentage of the world's population.

Japan scores highly in IQ and while IQ is not the definition of intelligence, it is a very good proxy for assessing it.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This list is quite flawed because of the overweight importance of Nobel prizes.

If you take a look at the actual list, Singapore ranks as no. 1 in both IQ scores and School Performance scores. Yet Singapore is ranked 74th because it won no Nobel prizes.

But the problem with Nobel prize is that it awards basic science, not applied science, and favors English speaking nations in areas of literature and economics.

Suppose you develop the grand AI that becomes self-aware(aka Skynet), that will win not you a Nobel prize.

Japan ranks below Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea in IQ scores and school performance scores, yet because of that Nobel prize wins it is propelled above its smarter Asian rivals.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Intelligence = IQ? How about looking at the ability to be creative without depending on the heavy use of money? Ive seen people in Africa and other third world countries be very creative. Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s nice to be highly educated because you’re in the right country. Overall I see the 21st century people being less intelligent then those say five centuries ago where survival depended on your wits. A few outstanding examples hardly shows a natio of high IQs. I’m surrounded by many examples of exceptions to break that rule.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Doing everything you're told isn't smart.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's an inconvenient Truth. Japanese people are smarter less suicidal less woke more productive more motivated and also immune to the prodding of the regressive left.

Gid bless them. I wish Europeans had an ounce of their testicular fortitude.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites