Japan’s ruling Liberal Democrats won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections this weekend. As with any election, the Japanese cast their votes, conveying their satisfaction—or lack thereof—with the state of affairs in the country. Exactly how content are the Japanese?

In Pew Research polls dating back to 2002, the Japanese have maintained a track record of relative pessimism and dissatisfaction when it comes to views about their country and its future. The results of a recent Pew Research survey conducted in Japan between March 5 and April 2 are no different. A majority of the Japanese public is dissatisfied with the direction of the country and pessimistic about the country’s current economic situation.

But the percentage of Japanese who are satisfied and optimistic increased significantly this year.  A third (33%) of the Japanese public is satisfied with the direction of the country. That figure is the highest it’s been since 2002, when Pew began polling in the country. Last year, just 20% of Japanese said they were satisfied.  This current satisfaction level is higher than that of publics in South Korea, Britain and France.

Additionally, 27% of Japanese said they think the economy is good. Just 7% of respondents said the same in 2012.

The greatest increase in optimism appeared in the number of Japanese who think the economy will improve in the next 12 months. A full 40% of Japanese anticipate improvement. That number reflects a 24 percentage point increase from the mere 16% who predicted improvement in 2012. According to the 2013 findings, 47% of Japanese think the economy will remain the same and 11% expect it to worsen.

Notably, more men (48%) than women (33%) expect the economy to improve, and more college-educated Japanese (50%) expect an improvement than those without a college degree (37%). Read more.

Katie Reilly  is a former editorial intern at the Pew Research Center.