In the Asahi Shimbun’s nationwide (telephone) survey conducted on Jan. 20–21, pollees were essentially evenly split over Prime Minister Abe’s expression of a strong desire to compile concrete constitutional amendments within the year, with 41% saying they approve and 42% saying they disapprove. In his New Year’s Press Conference, Prime Minister Abe said, “I want to make this a year in which we present to the public the shape the Constitution should take.” The cabinet support rate rose slightly to 45% (previous poll conducted on Dec. 16–17: 41%), while the nonsupport rate declined slightly to 33% (38%).
A full 54% of pollees said that “constitutional amendment should not be a priority issue” while 32% thought it should be. Some 49% of Liberal Democratic Party supporters thought the Constitution should be taken up as a priority issue, while 38% said otherwise. In contrast, some 60% of independents said it should not be a priority, while 22% said it should be.
Some 34% said they are in favor and 46% said they are opposed to revising the Constitution under the Abe administration to explicitly state the existence of the Self-Defense Forces by amending Article 9.
A plurality of 79% said they disapprove of the South Korean government’s recent handling of the comfort women issue. South Korea President Moon Jae-in said this month that Seoul will not ask Tokyo to renegotiate the [December 2015] agreement but that Japan needs to offer a “heartfelt apology” to the victims. Some 53% of pollees said that Abe “should attend” the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, while 30% disagreed.
Pollees were split on “work-style reforms,” a matter that Abe emphasized in his policy speech on Jan. 22. Some 46% said they are “optimistic” about the initiative while 44% said they are not.
[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted on Jan. 20–11 on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis of voters nationwide with telephone calls placed by pollsters to landline and mobile phone numbers (for landlines, some districts in Fukushima Prefecture were excluded). Valid responses were received from 994 persons (out of 2,002 households found to have one or more eligible voters) for landline numbers and from 1,024 persons (out of the 2,036 persons found to be eligible voters) for mobile numbers. The valid response rates were 50% for landline numbers and 50% for mobile numbers.]