Russia and Russians Through the Prism of Japanese Public Opinion (20222023)

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-12-127-136
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation.

Received 15.07.2023. Revised 10.09.2023. Accepted 25.09.2023.

Acknowledgements. The study was supported by MGIMO-University, project no. 2025-04-03. The author is deeply indebted to M. Eguchi, N. Shimotomai, M. Ishii, A. Panov, T. Alekseeva, D. Streltsov for their criticism as well as help and kind comments.

Abstract. For seven and a half decades, under the influence of American standards, the Japanese media sphere and, above all, the new media worked to consolidate in the minds of the Japanese the image of Russia as a country that is obsessed with the task of “expansion syndrome”. This study proves the hypothesis that after the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, these efforts of the mass media and part of the intellectual elite of Japan drastically and rapidly raised Russophobic sentiments in society to a critical maximum. A comparative analysis of the Japanese discourse related to the Ukrainian crisis, on the one hand, and the official public opinion surveys, on the other, have shown that the Japanese mass media have been extremely efficient in forming a biased and distorted vision of Russia and the Russians among the Japanese audience. At the same time, the unprecedented upsurge in anti-Russian sentiments directly correlates not only with the intensity of the propaganda campaign in the mass media but with the scale of sanctions/counter-sanctions politics as well. Based on in-depth interviews and personal observation during two semesters at a Japanese university (in 2020 and 2022–2023), the author concludes that the Japanese-Russian relations have entered a “deep freeze” zone and there is nowhere for the relationship to deteriorate further. Though the corridor of opportunities for rapprochement in the present has narrowed dramatically, the abnormal situation cannot last indefinitely, and it is necessary to work patiently on the future design of relations between Moscow and Tokyo. As a starting point, it is necessary to maintain humanitarian exchanges of researchers, teachers, students and graduate students in order not to lose the potential for restauration and consolidation of contacts at a new level in future.

Keywords: Russia, Japan, public opinion, polls, Russian-Japanese relations, mass media, sanctions


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For citation:
Chugrov S. Russia and Russians Through the Prism of Japanese Public Opinion (20222023). World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 12, pp. 127-136. EDN: JGYNKY

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