In the Nihon Yoron Chosakai public opinion survey on the Constitution conducted on Dec. 9–10, a majority of 53% of pollees said that it is “unnecessary” to revise Article 9 of the Constitution. Some 41% of respondents said amending this article, which stipulates that Japan renounces war and will not maintain war potential, is necessary. Some 67% of pollees said that there is “no need to rush Diet debate” on constitutional amendment, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to speed up. A total of 55% of respondents said either that constitutional amendment is “necessary” or “generally necessary.” This percentage is essentially unchanged from the previous poll conducted in February 2016 (54%).
Prime Minister Abe has made a proposal to explicitly state the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Article 9, and debate is growing more active within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The poll revealed, however, a gap in perception between the LDP and the public opinion.
Some 53% of pollees said they are opposed to amendment under Prime Minister Abe, exceeding the 39% in favor. Some 70% said that constitutional amendment was not a focal issue in the October 2017 Lower House election.
Those seeing a need for amending Article 9 were asked what should be prioritized in such an amendment, and the most frequent answer given was “explicitly stating the existence of today’s SDF.” Those who are in favor of constitutional amendment in general (not limited to Article 9) were asked why they think the supreme law needs revising. Some 64% said “because the articles and content of the Constitution are no longer in step with the times.” Meanwhile, 25% said “because new rights and obligations need to be included.”
Asked what the debate on constitutional amendment should focus on (up to three answers permitted), 62% said “Article 9 and the SDF,” making it the most frequent response. Some 36% said “creation of a state-of-emergency clause” 29% said “free education,” 22% said “right to know and protection of privacy,” and 22% said “emperor system.”
A total of 38% are opposed to revising the Constitution and described it as either “not necessary” or “generally not necessary” (previous poll: 40%). Asked why they are opposed to amendment, 38% said “because Japan has maintained peace by renouncing war” while 31% said “because there is the risk that amendment will lead to ‘military buildup.’” A total of 72% of respondents said they are either “interested” or “somewhat interested” in the issue of Constitution, a slight decrease from the previous poll. Some 52% said that the Diet should initiate constitutional amendment by the Upper House election in the summer of 2019.
[Nihon Yoron Chosakai is a nationwide public opinion polling entity managed by Kyodo News and comprising 38 of its subscribers including the Tokyo Shimbun.]
[Polling methodology: The survey was implemented on Dec. 9–10, 2017, based on face-to-face interviews conducted by pollsters. A total of 3,000 men and women aged 18 or over were randomly selected nationwide from 250 locations on a stratified two-stage random-sampling basis to create a cross-section of Japan’s slightly more than 100 million voters. Responses were received from 1,659 people, excluding those who could not be interviewed due to relocation or travel. The valid response rate was 55.3%. Composition of respondents was as follows: male, 48.5%; female, 51.5%.]