In July 2000, we sent questionnaires to 6200 people who were registered in the category of Japan of our pen pal service and who indicated that they are willing to participate in surveys. We received 368 valid responses from Japanese people who live in Japan; 75% of them were female and 70% were below the age of thirty. In addition to the unbalance in age and gender, we must consider the fact that all survey participants are registered in an online international pen pal service, which may mean that they are overall more internationally and less traditionally oriented than the average Japanese.

This year's G8 summit was held in Okinawa and Kyushu last month. Its highlight was the meeting of the heads of state and government of the G8 nations in the prefecture of Okinawa (July 21-23, 2000).

Our first two questions generally asked the survey participants how interested they are in politics and particularly international news. According to the results, a majority of people is only a little (48.1%) or not (9.5%) interested in politics. On the other hand, roughly one out of ten is very interested in politics with the remaining third just being interested. Regarding international news, a large majority of 85.1% indicated interest or even high interest. 14.1% are only a little bit interested and less than one out of a hundred is not interested in international news at all. In both categories, the interest is higher among men than women.

Next, we specifically asked the survey participants whether they were interested in the G8 summit. About half of them indicated an average to high interest, while the other half was only a little or not at all interested.

Surprisingly, only 15.2% found the summit a success, while 44.3% did not think so. Very many people seem to be especially critical towards their Prime Minister. On the question how they thought that Prime Minister Mori did his job at the summit, four out of ten survey respondents answered that he did not do a good job. Another 21.7% found his performance even very bad, while 21.2% found it average. Only a tiny number of survey participants found that their Prime Minister did a good (4.1%) or very good job (0.8%).

Much better were the survey participants reactions on Bill Clinton's historical speech in Okinawa as the first American president visiting the islands since they were returned to Japan in 1972. One fourth of the respondents found his speech good, 5.2% even very good. However, the largest part (38.9%) found it nothing special and about one out of ten showed a critical opinion: 9.2% found the speech not good, but only every 200th found it very bad. The remaining 19.3% had no opinion on the subject.

The summit was also accompanied by some protests mainly concerning Okinawa's heavy burden of American military bases. According to our survey, most people were neutral (49.7%) about these protests or voiced no opinion (32.9%). 10.3% supported the protests and 7.1% were against them.