Nikkei Inc./TV Tokyo conducted a spot public opinion poll on Aug. 9–11 in response to Emperor Akihito’s [message in which he] hinted at a desire to abdicate. Some 89% said that abdication, currently not allowed, should be permitted. Meanwhile 4% said that abdication “should not be allowed.” When asked if, in addition to the matter of abdication, the issues of female emperors/female-line emperors and the creation of female branches of the imperial family should be considered to stabilize imperial succession, 58% said “both should be considered.”
Looking at the responses approving of imperial abdication by category, such as age group, gender, occupation, and political party supported, approval was around 90% in all categories. Thus it seems that abdication is evenly supported throughout society. The approval rating for abdication was 77% in the survey conducted on July 22–24 although a simple comparison cannot be made because the question was phrased differently in the two surveys. Nonetheless, it seems that Emperor Akihito’s expression of his wishes to the public served to increase understanding and support.
The Imperial House Law governs the Imperial Household but contains no provisions regarding abdication. For this reason, for the emperor to abdicate either the Imperial House Law must be revised or a special law that would apply only to Emperor Akihito must be enacted. Under the Constitution of Japan, the emperor may not make political statements or take political actions. Nonetheless, when asked if Emperor Akihito’s expression of his wishes was problematic in terms of the Constitution, some 83% said “no” while only 9% said “yes.”
Public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was 58%, the same as that in the July 22–24 poll.
The telephone poll was conducted on Aug. 9–11 by Nikkei Research Inc. of men and women, aged 18 and over, nationwide on a random digit dialing (RDD) basis. A total of 1,016 valid responses were received for a response rate of 45.2%.