Asahi Shimbun May 2, 2006 “Tokyo Trials Poll”

Asahi Shimbun May 2, 2006 “Tokyo Trials Poll”

Dates Conducted

April 15 and 16, 2006

Date Released

May 2, 2006


The poll was taken of 3,000 people selected from the nationwide list of eligible voters. Students conducted the interviews on April 15 and 16, 2006. The survey collected 1,730 valid answers – 58% of the total number of persons interviewed. The gender breakdown of those polled was 47% male and 53% female. Interviewees were selected through a two-stage random selection process. The numbers in this report indicate percent. Decimals are rounded up or down. Figures in parentheses represent the ratio to all the answers.

Key Issues

  • Sentiments about Japan’s wartime legacy
  • Views of the 1946 Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal (Tokyo Trials)
  • Opinions about the Yasukuni Shrine


The ongoing controversy over Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine and the resulting backlash from China and Korea have led to a new round of introspection in Japan about the country’s wartime legacy and ability to bring closure to the past. An unusually public criticism of Japan’s wartime behavior by Yomiuri Shimbun Publisher Tsuneo Watanabe in early February further triggered this reflection. Known as a right-of-center intellectual, Mr. Watanabe harshly criticized the militarist movement that swept Japan throughout the 1930s and1940s. Questions remain, though, about how many Japanese—particularly younger generations—share Mr. Watanabe’s sentiments about the war and Japan’s quest to resolve the past.


The Mansfield Foundation is responsible for the translation of this Asahi Shimbun poll, subject to the Mansfield Foundation Terms of Use.



Q1: There are various ways to describe the war that ended 60 years ago in 1945. What do you refer to it as? Choose one from the following:

The Pacific War 23%
The Greater East Asian War 10%
World War II 57%
The Sino-Japan War 2%
The 15 Years War 1%
The Asia-Pacific War 2%


Q2: To what degree are you interested in this war?

A great deal 25%
To some degree 48%
Not much 21%
Not at all 5%


Q3: Do you have any personal experience with the war? Alternatively, have you ever heard directly about the war from someone who experienced it?

Have personal experience 22%
Have heard directly about the war from someone who experienced it 58%
Neither 19%


Q4: What kind of war do you think Japan took part in? Do you think it was a war of aggression? Do you think it was a war for self-defense? Or do you think the war had both aspects? Choose one from the following:

It was a war of aggression 31%
It was a war for self-defense 7%
The war had both aspects 45%
Don’t really know 15%


Q5: Do you think Japanese have done enough to ask questions and find answers as to why Japan went to war?

Done enough 18%
Not yet done enough 69%


Q6: To what degree do you think each of the following bears responsibility for the war? Choose one (the Emperor, the military, the politicians, the media, the people):

Emperor Military Politicians Media People
Extremely heavy responsibility 16% 54% 47% 18% 4%
Heavy responsibility 22% 24% 30% 23% 8%
Some degree of responsibility 42% 14% 15% 40% 39%
No responsibility 15% 2% 2% 12% 43%


Q7: Do you think Japan has apologized and compensated enough for the damage it caused to the countries and peoples it invaded and colonized?

Enough 36%
Not yet enough 51%


Qa: After the war, America and the other Allied nations convicted Japan’s war leaders as Class A war criminals at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. To what extent do you know about these “ Tokyo Trials”? Choose one:

Know the details of the trials very well 4%
Know the details of the trials somewhat 23%
Know the trials took place but don’t know the details 53%
Don’t even know the trials happened 17%


Qb: (Asked of the 27% who answered that they know well or somewhat about the trials) At the Tokyo Trials, seven people were eventually hanged and 25 were found guilty. Which among the following is the closest to your impression of the trials? Choose one:

The trials justly judged those who were responsible for the war 17% (5)
The trials were an unjust and unilateral judgment of the defeated nations by the victor nations 34% (9)
The trials had problems, but were necessary to bring closure 48% (13)

(Figures in parentheses refer to ratio of all answers, including those from respondents in Qa.)


Q8: Both the ordinary war dead and Class A war criminals, including former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and others, are enshrined together at the Yasukuni Shrine. Do you feel uncomfortable about this, or do you not feel uncomfortable?

Feel uncomfortable 31%
Do not feel uncomfortable 63%


Qa: Do you agree or disagree with the Japanese prime minister visiting Yasukuni Shrine?

Agree 50%
Disagree 31%


Qb: Among the 50% who answered “agree”, what is the reason for your thinking? Choose one:

Because it is memorializing the war dead 53% (26)
Because it is a pledge for peace 16% (8)
Because the prime minister has the freedom to have his own thoughts and beliefs 19% (10)
Because there is no need to mind foreign criticism 10% (5)

(Figures in parentheses refer to ratio of all answers, including those from respondents in Qa.)

Qc: (Asked of the 31% who answered “disagree” with the Japanese prime minister’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine) What is the reason for your thinking? Choose one:

Because it glorifies militarism 10% (3)
Because it is an infraction of the constitutional ban on religious activity 9% (3)
Because it enshrines Class A war criminals 26% (8)
Because it is necessary to consider sentiments of surrounding nations 51% (16)

(Figures in parentheses refer to ratio of all answers, including those from respondents in Qa.)


Q9: China and Korea criticize Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine. Do you think the government should take this criticism seriously, or do you think the government doesn’t have to take such criticism so seriously?

Should take seriously 41%
Shouldn’t take so seriously 51%


Q10: Among the following, what do you think is the suitable institution for the nation to honor those who died in past wars? Choose one:

Yasukuni Shrine as it is today 37%
Yasukuni Shrine that stops enshrining Class A war criminals 19%
A government-managed Tokyo-Chidori ga Fuchi tomb of the unknown soldier 15%
A new national, secular institution 19%
No special need for an institution 6%


Qa: Do you think you would like to communicate what you learned about and/or your experience of the past war to the next generation? Choose one:

Very much think so 47%
Think so to some degree 39%
Don’t really think so 9%
Don’t think so at all 3%


Qb: (Asked of the 86% who answered “very much think so” and “think so to some degree”) Which of the following points do you most want to pass along to the next generation? Choose one:

Personal experiences during the wartime 15% (13)
The damage caused to citizens 37% (32)
The damage inflicted on surrounding nations 13% (11)
The causes of the war and the responsibility of its leaders 29% (25)

(Figures in parentheses refer to ratio of all answers, including those from respondents in Qa.)

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