RIYADH: Arabs rank Japan higher than any member of the Middle East Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) as a neutral mediator between Palestinians and Israelis, a new survey suggests.
The Arab News-YouGov poll of Arabic speakers in 18 countries indicates that Japan, a non-military nation that applies the principles of peace and stability, commands enormous soft power in the region.
A large majority of those surveyed, 56 percent, considered Japan the most neutral mediator of any Israel-Palestine peace deal. Japan was also chosen by 87 percent as a country they would like to visit.
Arabs associate Japanese people with positive attributes such as being hardworking (61 percent), organized (54 percent) and punctual (42 percent).
The overall impression of Japan is positive, and becomes more so with age.
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Younger generations have a more dynamic understanding based on cars, technology and anime. Saudis and Emiratis in particular consider the relationship between Japan and the Arab world to be a positive one.
Overall, Japan was ranked number one for the quality of its products. Sony was the most recognizable Japanese brand (60 percent), followed by Muji (32 percent). Toyota was the favorite Japanese car brand among Arabs, chosen by 35 percent.
In general, Japan is perceived in a positive light and regarded as a trusted partner in the Arab world.
Coverage of the Arab News-YouGov survey continues today and tomorrow, in print and online.