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54% against constitutional amendment under Abe administration, Kyodo News poll

According to the Kyodo News nationwide public opinion poll conducted on Jan. 13–14, some 54.8% of pollees are against amending the Constitution under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, up 6.2 percentage points from the previous poll conducted on December 2017. Supporters of amendment stand at 33.0%. The nationwide telephone survey also shows 49.0% of respondents are in favor of immediately halting the operation of nuclear power plants in Japan, an initiative championed by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi among others. Some 42.6% oppose the plants being shut down. The support rate for the cabinet rose 2.5 points from the previous poll to 49.7%, while the disapproval rate was 36.6%.


The premier has proposed adding an explicit reference to the Self-Defense Forces in Article 9 of the Constitution. But the idea drew a negative response from 52.7% of those polled, while only 35.3% back the proposal. These findings are unchanged from those found in the November 2017 poll when the same question was asked (opposed: 52.6%; in favor: 38.3%). In defense policy, 46.7% are against the introduction of long-range cruise missiles, while 41.7% are in favor. Concerns have been raised by some observers that acquiring such capabilities would constitute a violation of Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy.


Some 56.8% of Komeito supporters are in favor of immediately halting nuclear power plant operations. Some 33.7% of LDP supporters are in favor of halting, while 58.5% are opposed. Of supporters of opposition parties, those in favor vastly outnumber those opposed, except for supporters of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). This suggests that caution is spreading regarding the government’s policy to restart nuclear power plants.


Japan’s nuclear policy could emerge as a key topic of debate in the upcoming ordinary Diet session. Former PM Koizumi and others are urging ruling and opposition lawmakers to submit to the Diet a bill to immediately halt nuclear power plant operations, and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) is aiming to submit a draft bill to move Japan away from nuclear power.


By political party supported, some 77.1% of CDPJ supporters, 75.2% of Party of Hope supporters, 61.9% of Democratic Party (DP) supporters, and 78.9% of Japanese Communist Party (JCP) supporters are in favor of immediately halting nuclear power. Some 52.1% of independents also are in favor. Some 65.3% of Nippon Ishin supporters are opposed, while 17.5% are in favor.


Political party support was as follows: LDP, 38.4%, up 1.3 points; CDPJ, 12.7, up 0.2 points; Party of Hope, 1.2%, down 2.0 points; Komeito, 2.8%; DP, 1.3%; JCP, 3.8%; Nippon Ishin, 2.4%; Liberal Party, 0.1%; Social Democratic Party, 0.6%. Some 35.4% said they are independents.


[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by telephone on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis on Jan. 13–14 targeting voters across the nation. However, the survey excluded landline numbers in some areas in Fukushima Prefecture. The survey covered 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters nationwide [by landline numbers], with responses collected from 507 people. A total of 1,122 people were accessed through their mobile phones, of which 506 responded.]


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