Wrong about Japan: Arab News-YouGov survey reveals Arab misconceptions

Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a ceremony proclaiming his enthronement at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22, 2019. In an Arab News-YouGov poll, 7 out of every 10 Arabs surveyed thought the Japanese emperor has the power to sign laws. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Updated 28 October 2019

Wrong about Japan: Arab News-YouGov survey reveals Arab misconceptions

  • A total of 3,033 Arabic speakers from 18 countries were interviewed in the survey
  • Many believe the Japanese invented mobile phones and created the personal computer

DUBAI: Nearly half the people in the Arab world believe the Japanese invented the mobile phone and more than a third think they also created personal computers, a new survey suggests.

The Arab News-YouGov poll, which highlights Arabs’ positive perceptions of Japan, has also revealed a number of misconceptions.

Arabs are misinformed about Japan’s executive authority, with 30 percent thinking the emperor has the power to sign laws. An even bigger number — 45 percent — believe Japan has a nuclear bomb.

Based on online interviews with 3,033 Arabic speakers from 18 countries, the poll was commissioned by Arab News as part of the recent launch of its Japan online edition.

Such misconceptions among Arabs were attributed by experts to several factors, including how history is taught, knowledge gaps across generations and the use of technology.


Ignorance of Japanese politics was also common among the respondents, almost half of whom said Japan was a member of the UN Security Council. Nine percent thought Japan’s military was aligned with North Korea.

Japan’s history of earthquakes and natural disasters, including the 2012 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, appears to have influenced Arab perceptions. Close to half of the respondents associated Japan with earthquakes, despite its advanced infrastructure for managing natural disasters.

Dr. Theodore Karasik, senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, said mobile phones were a useful tool to eliminate misconceptions. “The way Japanese society uses mobile phones provides an interesting cross-cultural reference point regarding use of public space and being better informed,” he said.

And who invented them? That was Marty Cooper, a US engineer, in 1973.

Turkey’s Libya gas moves could upset Egypt, say experts

Pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy owned by Gazprom, which Russia may use to complete construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, is seen in a bay near the Baltic Sea port of Baltiysk, Kaliningrad region, Russia May 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 2 min 49 sec ago

Turkey’s Libya gas moves could upset Egypt, say experts

  • Spats over natural resources in Eastern Mediterranean

CAIRO: Turkey will start exploring Libya’s coast for gas within three months, the country’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said, with experts saying the move will create tension with Egypt.

A dispute has been ongoing for several years between Turkey and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt regarding the ownership of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Turkish Petroleum Company has submitted an application to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) for permission to excavate in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The move could escalate the tension between Ankara and Cairo that was caused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood following the 2013 revolution in Egypt that overthrew a Brotherhood-affiliated president. It eventually led to public enmity between Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Political expert Tariq Abboud said Turkey was suffering from a severe economic crisis and was relying on reconstruction projects and future investments in the country to fix the problem.

The Eastern Mediterranean is a coveted region because it contains a large amount of natural gas estimated at more than 100 trillion cubic meters and Ankara wanted a share of that, according to Abboud.

Ankara also wants to seize the value of compensation of suspended projects in Libya, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This is in addition to Turkey benefiting from supplying Libya with weapons, despite UN Security Council resolution 1970 of March 2011 which calls on all member states of the world body to prevent the sale or supply of weapons and related items to Libya,” he told Arab News.

“In addition, they also introduced Resolution 2420, which allows member states to inspect ships heading to or coming from Libya in order to prevent the entry of weapons into the country. But the reality is a completely different matter, as Greece stopped a ship heading to Libya from Turkey carrying explosive materials.”

Energy expert Mohammed El-Wardany said Turkey had been angered by the East Mediterranean agreement EastMed which was reached between Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The deal aims to secure energy supplies in Europe through a 2,000 km pipeline.

El-Wardany believed that Turkey saw the accord as an obstacle to its own attempts to expand control over the Eastern Mediterranean.

“It can be said that the Turkish-Libyan alliance came in response to that agreement,” he told Arab News.

“Turkey’s announcement that it will start exploration at this time is understandable. Turkey now consumes enormous amounts of energy annually, does not have sufficient resources, and imports the equivalent of $50 billion on an annual basis. Despite the excavations carried out by Ankara, the region's marine areas have no gas or oil fields. This led it to send ships to explore for gas off the coast of Cyprus, which Nicosia considered a provocation and illegal.”

Political analyst Jamal Shakra said that a direct confrontation between the two countries was unlikely, but that Egypt would move with its allies in the region to prevent Turkey from stealing what it had “no right to in the region.”