Post-Disaster, Japan Has Exposed Greater Issues for the Nation

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AnxietyIndex Finds Need for Better Corporate, Political Leadership

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According to the second survey in a JWT series examining post-disaster shifts in Japan, many Japanese feel the country is now confronting deeper problems it had avoided facing before. The AnxietyIndex research from JWT, the world’s best-known marketing communications brand, was conducted six months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

These fundamental issues involve politics and businesses. Japanese feel the disaster proved that Japan’s political system is eroded (78% of respondents) and that politics and business are too closely aligned, stifling competition (64%). The government has failed to convince the people of its leadership abilities, in part because of its failure to provide consistent, reliable information, especially in regard to radiation risks. Just 27% of respondents agree the government is capable of steering Japan through the crisis, whereas 61% trust what big corporations have been doing to help.

“There’s significant opportunity for brands to help fill the leadership void with decisive actions and by providing untainted information,” says Jordan Price, Senior Strategic Planning Partner, JWT Tokyo. “For brands that can engineer a positive change from business as usual, the rewards can be significant, given the nation’s sentiments.”

Following 3/11, there was a sense the traumatic jolt might galvanize the country, moving Japan out of its 25-year-long economic stagnation. But 6 in 10 respondents feel the crisis has shown that Japanese companies are becoming less globally competitive.

“The sense of lack of vision, leadership and direction is spilling over from government to domestic companies,” says Price. “With China’s rising global influence and Korea’s recent dynamism frequently in the media, many long for the era when Japanese companies were dominant players on the world stage.”

This report is the second in a series on Japan that seeks to analyze post-disaster shifts in perception, values and behavior in order to formulate insights relevant to brands in these uncertain times.

Other findings include:

  •     Anxiety on the rise in an already anxious nation: It might be expected that the country’s nerves would be most on edge immediately after the March 11 disaster and then gradually calm. But the percentage of Japanese who feel “very nervous/anxious” increased significantly since our April 2011 survey—from 30 percent to 46 percent—indicating that the disaster has brought some of Japan’s deeper concerns to the surface.
  •     Nuclear disaster still weighs most heavily on Japan’s psyche: In the near-term, resolving the Fukushima nuclear situation remains a top priority, with 67 percent ranking the clean-up as one of the most significant issues facing Japan; 52 percent cited a lack of political leadership.
  •     Japanese remain confident in the people’s ability to overcome hardship: Despite high levels of anxiety and frustration, 94 percent of Japanese agree that the nation has encountered worse and risen above it.

JWT’s third AnxietyIndex survey in Japan was conducted September 9-18 using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool; 500 adults aged 18-plus were polled, and the data was weighted by age. Due to the disaster, 14 regions were excluded from this research, representing 27 percent of Japan.

The report can be downloaded from the Trends and Research section of

About JWT’s AnxietyIndex

JWT launched the AnxietyIndex in February 2003 during the run-up to the war in Iraq. It tracks the level and intensity of consumer anxiety and, importantly, the drivers of anxiety, including safety and security concerns—the threat of terrorism, potential and current military hostilities, crime, etc.—and economic worries, such as the cost of health care, the cost of living and job security. The AnxietyIndex is designed to uncover consumer insights that can help inform strategies for marketing during times of high or low anxiety.

About JWT

JWT is the world’s best-known marketing communications brand. Headquartered in New York, JWT is a true global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals.

JWT consistently ranks among the top agency networks in the world and continues its dominant presence in the industry by staying on the leading edge—from producing the first-ever TV commercial in 1939 to developing award-winning branded content for brands such as Freixenet, Ford and HSBC.

JWT’s pioneering spirit enables the agency to forge deep relationships with clients including Bayer, Bloomberg, Cadbury, Diageo, DTC, Ford, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, Microsoft, Nestlé, Nokia, Rolex, Royal Caribbean, Schick, Shell, Unilever, Vodafone and many others. JWT’s parent company is WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY).


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