Sunday, July 24, 2005

Poll: Family Comes First in U.S., Japan

rest of the world?

coo-coo for coco-puffs.


a very respectable close second.


Poll: Family Comes First in U.S., Japan

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer Sun Jul 24,12:59 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Japanese love baseball. Americans name football as their favorite sport. For people in both countries, family comes before money, career or anything else.

Diverging tastes in sports is just one of the differences between the people living in countries that are close allies six decades after fighting each other in World War II.

Three-fourths of Americans surveyed named family as the most important factor in happiness, compared with six in 10 Japanese, according to an AP-Kyodo poll.

"When it really comes down to it, family is very important,"
said Sylvia Sabo, a school bus driver from Johnstown, Pa., whose husband died more than 20 years ago.

"I've been a single parent from a very young age. The kids were all I had. I was all they had. Now I'm raising a grandson," Sabo said.

Some Japanese value the family without naming it as the key to happiness.

"We take it for granted that we have our own families and we feel happy when we can think of something beyond that," Kaori Goto, a college student from Chiba, said recently while visiting Tokyo.

Almost one-quarter of the Japanese said relaxation was the most important factor, followed by community service at 14 percent. Seven percent of Americans said relaxation was the most important, and 6 percent cited community service.

U.S. analysts who study Asian culture suggest changes in society come more slowly in Japan, which is more homogenous, formal and traditional than the U.S.

"Life is more under control in Japan than in the United States," said George Totten, a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California who has studied China, Japan and Korea.

The Japanese "take families more for granted. Americans may be more afraid of changes affecting the family," Totten said.

When it comes to sports, Japan is even more baseball-crazy than America, where the game was invented.

Some 36 percent of the Japanese named baseball as their favorite sport, followed by soccer at 22 percent, the poll found.

Baseball made its way to Japan in the late 19th century, introduced by Americans as Japan began opening up to outsiders, said Brad Lefton, producer of a documentary on Japanese baseball star Ichiro Suzuki, who plays for the Seattle Mariners. Some estimate it started in the 1870s.

"Baseball has been on television since my childhood, and people dreamed of becoming baseball players to get rich," said Tomoo Saito, a 47-year-old boss of a Japanese trading company. "Perhaps that was the only sport that was glamorous and that could make you rich."

For Americans, football was the sport of choice for 31 percent of those surveyed, following by basketball (19 percent) and then baseball, the national pastime, at 15 percent.

The importance of trade between the two countries also elicited contrasting responses.

Most Americans say it is good for the U.S., while two-thirds of the Japanese polled said it has no effect on Japan.

The U.S., with its taste for Japanese cars, motorcycles and electronics, keeps running up a huge trade deficit with Japan.

"Japan has had these waves of a love-hate relationship with the United States, even in the postwar period," said UCLA history professor Fred Notehelfer, director of the UCLA Center for Japanese Studies. "There is currently a cycle in Japan when there is a greater emphasis on things Japanese."

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. 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.

Associated Press writer Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo and AP's manager of surveys, Trevor Tompson, contributed to this report.

On the Net:

An interactive detailing poll questions and responses is available at



Post a Comment

<< Home