Japanese people have reacted with shock and disbelief at the outcome of the US presidential election – and concern about what Donald Trump’s victory will mean for the relationship between Tokyo and Washington.

A study conducted in the weeks running up to what has been described as the most vicious election in US history showed that the Japanese public was firmly on the side of Hillary Clinton. The research, commissioned by the South China Morning Post, showed that 88 per cent of Japanese voters favoured the Democratic Party candidate – with a mere 7 per cent of Japanese professing a positive personal impression of her Republican rival.

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“I am worried,” said Hiroko Moriwaki, a librarian who lives in Tokyo.

“Clinton seemed to have a good lead in the polls not long ago, but as we got closer to election day we began to see more and more on television American people expressing just how disappointed they were in their situation and just how much they personally disliked her,” she said.

“And I was equally surprised at how positively people were reacting to Trump’s speeches,” she added.

Emi Doi, a journalist with the Nippon.com web site, said Trump’s victory was “scary”.

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“This is a person who has clearly expressed views that are discriminatory towards other races and religions, is anti-women and has announced that he wants to build a wall on the Mexican border,” she said.

“And that is even before we get to his economic policies,” she added. “It’s frightening that he is going to be in control of the world’s largest economy for the next four years.

“I think he has won due to the sense of insecurity among so many people in the US, and he has played that up among people who fear for their jobs and their security,” she said.

The only flicker of hope for a Trump presidency, Moriwaki suggested, was that the rest of the Republican Party – those with experience of politics and a better grasp of the need to work with America’s allies rather than alienate them – might act as a restraining force.

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“He made some dramatic promises during the election campaign, but I’m not sure if he will actually carry through with them all,” she said. “Maybe he was bluffing and went to extremes just to win the election.

“I hope he will take a more pragmatic approach,” she added. “Hopefully he will listen to others in the Republican party who have experience of government and value the relationship with Japan.

“I really hope so.”