The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a spot nationwide public opinion poll on Aug. 9–10 in response to Emperor Akihito’s video message to the people of Japan in which he hinted at a desire to “abdicate.” Some 81% of respondents said that the system, which currently does not allow abdication, “should be revised” to permit it, vastly exceeding the 10% who said “revision is not necessary.”
Those indicating that “the system should be changed” thus remained at a high level, continuing the trend found in a survey conducted prior to the release of the video (84% in a survey conducted on Aug. 3–4). The vast majority of the people thus approve of changing the system.
Those who said the system “should be revised” were asked if the change should apply only to the current emperor or should apply to all future emperors. Some 80% said that abdication “should be permitted for all future emperors” with only 14% indicating that it “should apply to only the current emperor.”
The government plans to set up an expert committee as soon as September which would initiate deliberations, including discussion of revising the Imperial House Law or enacting a special law. Views were split on how the government should handle the revision of the system, with 52% saying that the government “should hurry” and 43% saying it “should deliberate the matter carefully.”
Some 37% said they “want the current emperor not to abdicate but to continue as emperor by reducing his public duties or having the crown prince serve as regent,” while 49% thought otherwise.
[Polling methodology: The nationwide survey was conducted on Aug. 9–10 on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis of people age 18 or over with calls placed to landline and mobile phone numbers. Valid responses were received from a total of 1,151 persons, including 554 persons (out of the 1,010 households with one or more eligible voters) for landline numbers and 597 persons (out of the 1,448 persons who answered) for mobile numbers. The valid response rates were 55% for landline numbers and 41% for mobile numbers.]