Poll Finds 44% Favor Japanese Investment in U.S.

Associated Press

Americans are not as worried about Japanese investment in the United States as is commonly supposed, a U.S.-Japan friendship organization said Wednesday in releasing a poll.

About 44% of Americans in three states where Japanese direct investment is most heavily concentrated--California, Michigan and Tennessee--agreed with the proposition that Japanese direct investment is good for the U.S. economy.

Seventeen percent disagreed, and 39% said they were neutral.

The poll was commissioned by the New York-based Japan Society with funding from Japan’s National Institute for Research Advancement. In an attempt to ensure impartiality, it was conducted by an outside organization, the University of Miami.


“I found it somewhat surprising” that Americans’ attitudes were relatively favorable, David MacEachron, the Japan Society’s president, said at a news conference announcing the results.

In addition to 1,200 members of the public, pollsters separately interviewed 416 opinion leaders such as business leaders and government officials, and 158 blue- and white-collar employees of Japanese companies in the three states.

Among the other findings:

- In a negative finding, 45% of the public felt that Japanese direct investment causes the United States to lose its economic independence. Thirty percent disagreed, and the rest were neutral.

- The public was about evenly divided on whether the United States should make it more difficult for Japan to make direct investments in the future. Thirty-six percent said yes, and 32% said no.

- Fourteen percent of the public in the three states agreed--but 36% disagreed--that Japanese-affiliated companies had too much political and economic influence in their states.

- Seventy percent felt that foreign direct investors, including the Japanese, should be required to make public the nature and extent of their U.S. investments. Eight percent disagreed.

- While states have competed to attract Japanese companies with special incentives, 56% disagreed with the idea that states should offer more such incentives. Ten percent thought they should.

- Opinion leaders were more likely to have a favorable opinion of direct Japanese investment than the general public, and employees of Japanese companies had the most favorable opinion of all.

The poll was based on information gathered in late 1987 and early 1988. It was published last month, but not publicized until Wednesday.

Japan accounted for about $200 million of the $1.5 billion in total foreign investment in the United States as of the end of 1987, according to government figures. About a sixth of Japan’s investment is “direct” investment in factories, office buildings, real estate and the like.