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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 00:16 GMT 01:16 UK
Wealth 'empowers' East Asians
By Bethan Jinkinson
BBC News

Supporters of Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Japanese people have little trust for authority
East Asians from wealthy countries are more likely to feel they have control over their lives, a new poll suggests.

Those from South Korea, Japan and Singapore feel they have the most power to alter their own destiny.

In contrast, those surveyed in Vietnam, one of East Asia's poorest countries, feel there is very little they can do to change their own lives.

Gallup International questioned nearly 9,000 people in East Asia for the BBC's Who Runs Your World? survey.

Respondents were asked who had power over their lives, who they trust and if they have the power to change their own lives.

The BBC World Service commissioned the Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 poll of more than 50,000 people in 68 countries.

Nationalism is an important part of the East Asian identity: More than a third of those surveyed found it more important than religion, ethnicity or continent.

In South Korea, 73% of respondents considered their nationality more important than anything else.

Lack of trust

In terms of who they trust, East Asians are more likely to look up to intellectuals, journalists and religious leaders than the military and business elite.

Sample size: 9,893
Margin of error: +/-2.81%
Source: BBC/Gallup International

That is apart from the Japanese, who appear to trust virtually no-one.

Over 70% of the Japanese surveyed do not trust either military, religious, business or political leaders - perhaps surprising when you consider the fact that the ruling Liberal Democratic party has been in power almost continuously for the last 50 years.

Democracy does not appear to be alive and well in the region.

Fewer than 30% of East Asians believe that their country is governed by the will of its people.

This is even more remarkable when you consider that people from some of the least democratic countries - such as Burma, North Korea and China - were unable to take part in the survey.


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