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76% think a permanent system for abdication is necessary, Kyodo spot opinion poll

In a video message issued on Aug. 8, Emperor Akihito indicated his strong desire to abdicate. In response, Kyodo News conducted a spot telephone public opinion poll to probe people’s views. Some 86.6% of respondents said they supported the abdication of the emperor. This is on a par with the level [85.7%] found in a survey conducted [Aug. 3–4] prior to the video message. Some 76.6% said that a permanent framework for abdication, which applies not to only Emperor Akihito but to all future emperors, should be created.


Legal revisions are required to allow abdication. Respondents were divided over whether procedures should be advanced quickly (over 50%) or the matter should be deliberated cautiously (over 40%).


In his video message, Emperor Akihito said, “I am worried that it may become difficult for me to carry out my duties as the symbol of the state” as his fitness level has deteriorated due to his advanced age. The poll showed that there is considerable understanding of this among the public, with 81.9% of respondents saying, “The emperor should abdicate if it becomes difficult for him to perform his duties.” However, some 16.2% said that “[making legal revisions in response to the Emperor’s statement] presents a problem” because of the constitutional provisions that forbid the emperor from making political statements.


[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by telephone on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis targeting voters across the nation from the evening of Aug. 8 through Aug. 9. However, the survey excluded some areas in Fukushima Prefecture. Among randomly generated telephone numbers, those actually for household use with one or more eligible voters totaled 1,442. Valid responses were obtained from 1,008 persons.]

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