World opinion of the United States goes up and down like a giant see-saw. Sometimes the U.S. is seen as a world leader in economics, science and technology; yet there is no denying the fact that around the globe, there are some groups that harbor negative feelings towards Americans.
Post WWII, there has been an incredibly strong bond between the U.S. and Japan, but has public opinion been swayed in recent years? If this small sampling of college students is representative of how the youth of Japan feel about the U.S., relations between the two countries will continue to be solid.
A husband and wife team of YouTubers (Rachel & Jun) are beginning a series of “What Japanese think of (insert country)” and they’ve started with the good 'ol US of A. Seems like a logical place to start, most Japanese people are familiar with America in some way, and America (the country) always wants to know what other people think about it.
Here’s what the students had to say:
1. What comes to mind when you think about America?
“Big!” “Freedom!” “Dunkin’ Donuts!”
The most common answer to this question though was, “There are many people from many different countries that live in America.” Due to this diversity, the Japanese students thought Americans were generally more cheerful and friendly, not shy like they usually are.
Some people also remarked on the size of portions in the U.S. (this will come up again later), and apparently the only thing that Americans eat are hamburgers.
2. What are the good and bad stereotypes that Japanese have of Americans?
Almost everyone said that Americans are “open and friendly”, that they are “sociable and not shy”. Some mentioned how Americans are very accepting, perhaps because there are many people from different countries who live in the U.S.
While many mentioned other “good stereotypes,” there were some major “bad stereotypes” that they brought up as well, particularly weight and gun crimes. The overweight stereotype is no surprise since if food portions are bigger, there will be more calories. Gun crime seems like an obvious one as well, as all anyone needs to do is turn on the news to hear about the latest gun-related death in America.
3. Would you like to go to America? (Specifically, where?)
Perhaps it’s a sign of the changing times for the Japanese, but most of these college students have already visited the United States at least once. Their trip was memorable enough that many of them want to go back soon. Common places they wanted to visit were New York, California, Boston and of course, Disneyland.
4. Pop quiz!
The final segment asked some general knowledge questions about the U.S. With the United States being such a huge world player and the fact that Japan can receive U.S. television channels via satellite, even college students in Japan can answer questions like:
“Name a famous person from America.”
“Who is the leader of America?”
“What is the capital of America?”
Each person was able to correctly answer the questions without much trouble. Maybe the only amusing moments were how many people seemed awkwardly stumped by the second question after they already said “Barack Obama” for the first question.
What started as a potentially embarrassing video for either the United States or Japan, turned out to be a nice sit down love-fest. We’d would love to see this kind of video done in reverse: What do Americans think about Japan?
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