Last year, Japan was thrust into the international spotlight after Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics and traditional Japanese cuisine was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (only the second national cuisine after France’s own!). With all of this increased attention on the global stage, one Japanese corporation was curious to know what thoughts Japanese children harbored about their own country. Keep reading to find which things about their country Japanese kids liked and disliked the most.

Benesse Corporation (parent company of the Berlitz Language Schools) conducted the survey from November 27 through December 3, 2o13. A total of 1,626 children, ranging in age from elementary school students to high school students, revealed their personal opinions about Japan. All in all, a huge 96.9% of the children responded that they “like” Japan, and 93% are currently happy with their lives.

The “Do you like Japan?” percentage breakdown:
I love Japan: 52.2%
If I had to choose, I like Japan: 44.7%
If I had to choose, I don’t like Japan: 2.7%
I don’t  like Japan: 0.4%

Next, let’s take a look at some reasons why they liked their home country:

▼What do you like about Japan?


Qualities of Japanese People

  • Many friendly people
  • People are diligent and polite
  • Japanese modesty
  • People have good manners
  • Japanese hospitality is great

Climate/Natural features

  • Abundant nature
  • Four definite seasons
  • Many places with beautiful scenery


  • Lots of delicious foods
  • Japanese food like sushi is delicious

Pop culture

  • Lots of anime
  • A plethora of video games

Public order/Safety/Welfare

  • Citizens don’t own guns
  • The crime rate is low
  • People can live without worrying about their safety

Transportation systems

  • Public transportation is advanced
  • Trains are punctual


Now let’s take a look at some things that the children weren’t so keen about their own country:

What do you dislike about Japan?


Qualities of Japanese People

  • Bullying is common
  • People can’t say “no” directly
  • People can be too serious
  • People complain about little things
  • How everyone wants to do the same thing as everyone else

Climate/Natural features

  • [Disasters]
  • Many earthquakes
  • Many natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons
  • [Small country]
  • Houses are cramped
  • Too many people sometimes


  • Some people waste food


  • Children must always be doing nothing but studying
  • There are many tests
  • Schools have lots of strict rules


  • Money means everything
  • The wealth gap is terrible
  • The state of the economy is bad
  • The consumption tax keeps increasing
  • Taxes are high


  • Politicians’ childish remarks
  • Politicians don’t take their work seriously

Public order/Safety/Welfare

  • The nuclear incident
  • Japan still uses nuclear power

International Relations

  • Weak to criticism from abroad
  • Tendency to hesitate when foreign countries are involved
  • Few people can speak English
  • Few opportunities to speak English in Japan


Lastly, here’s the “Are you currently happy?” percentage breakdown:
I’m very happy: 33%
I’m on the happier side: 60%
I’m on the less happy side: 6.1%
I’m not happy at all: 0.9%

The overwhelming cause of unhappy children? Too much studying and lots of hard tests. Aah, to be a kid again!

Furthermore, the children identified several things that they need to be happy, such as money, family, and friends. Obstacles to their happiness included poverty, being alone all the time, and torn-apart families. Interestingly, when the happiest students were asked to picture themselves at the age of 40, many envisioned themselves being happily married with families more commonly than being internationally famous.

I for one appreciated the students’ honesty in revealing their thoughts about the good and bad points of Japan as a nation. I was also impressed in regards to their level of awareness concerning some areas, though I wonder how much prompting the kids received to give these answers. What do you think was the most interesting part of their responses? Feel free to write any cross-cultural comparisons in the comments section below.

Source/Images: Hachimakiko, Irorio