In preparation for Constitution Day, the Asahi Shimbun conducted a mail-in nationwide opinion poll from mid-March through the end of April to probe views on the Constitution. Those against revising the Constitution increased to 55% (last year: 48%), while pro-revisionists decreased to 37% (last year: 43%). Moreover, 52% were against and 33% were in favor of adding “state-of-emergency provisions” to the Constitution, under which the government would have increased authority in an emergency situation, such as a major natural disaster.
Since the 2014 mail-in survey, those against Constitutional revision have outnumbered those in favor, and the gap widened in this 2016 survey.
Respondents were asked for the reason for their response about amendment (up to three answers permitted). Some 72% of those against revision said amendment was not necessary “because the Constitution has brought peace,” while 52% of those seeking revision indicated revision was necessary “because provisions on national defense are inadequate.”
Those against revising Article 9 increased to 68% (last year: 63%), substantially exceeding the 27% (last year: 29%) in favor of revising the war-renouncing clause. Some 34% approved of the security-related legislation while 53% were against it. A full 93% of those opposed to the legislation said Article 9 should not be altered.
Regarding the issue of adding state-of-emergency provisions to the Constitution, respondents were given an explanation of the two responses: “yes (clauses should be added to the Constitution)” and “no (the issue can be handled with the current Constitution if other laws are enhanced).” Some 50% of cabinet supporters and 51% of LDP backers thought that clauses should be added to the Constitution while 61% of those not affiliated with a political party were against additions.
When asked if they think public debate on the issue of constitutional amendment is vigorous, 16% of respondents said “yes,” including those indicating “very” (1%) and “somewhat” (15%), while 82% said “no,” including pollees responding “not very” (57%) and “not at all” (25%).
Respondents against revising the Constitution under the Abe administration were more than double those in favor at 58% to 25%. When the same question was asked in a telephone opinion poll taken in April 2007 during the first Abe cabinet, those in favor and those against were almost equal at 40% to 42%. This time, however, those against substantially exceeded those in favor.