The image of the partner: Television's contribution to Japanese perceptions of America

Shinichi Saito, University of Pennsylvania


The mass media often report a growing dislike or distaste toward America in Japan. The perception of America in Japan has varied over the years, but it is said that we now face the deepest division between the two countries since World War II. Social critics, however, call this situation "a pseudo-crisis," and claim that the mass media place too much emphasis on the negative aspects of the U.S., thereby contributing to the creation of unfavorable images of America among the Japanese. Do the Japanese media, particularly television, really contribute to the formation of negative images of America? This dissertation addresses this issue by exploring the relationship between exposure to television and perceptions of America in Japan from the perspective of cultivation theory. In addition to this fundamental research question, the dissertation also examines the issues "Compared to other relevant factors, how important a role does television viewing play in forming perceptions of America?" and "What elements of television have the most measurable impact on perceptions of America?" To address these issues, a questionnaire survey was conducted in Japan. The sample for this study was drawn from the city of Sendai. Five hundred people of 20 years old or over were selected on a stratified probability sampling method. Questionnaires were administered in person by trained interviewers from April 17 to April 30, 1993. The final sample comprised 403 completed interviews. The findings showed that television in Japan may cultivate not only negative images of America, but also some positive images. However, we found some evidence showing negative effects of television viewing on perceptions of America and Americans. The results revealed that compared with other relevant factors such as demographic variables and direct experience, television viewing measures were better predictors for many aspects of the perceptions of America. The results also indicated that measures of exposure to specific genres (news or American programs) may be more reliable indicators for specific images than the total amount of viewing. Some possible explanations for the effects found in this study and implications for future research were discussed.

Subject Area

Mass media

Recommended Citation

Saito, Shinichi, "The image of the partner: Television's contribution to Japanese perceptions of America" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9628001.