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53% say security legislation helps “strengthen Japan-U.S. alliance,” Yomiuri survey on the Constitution

The security legislation that came into effect from March 2016 allows Japan to exercise its “right to collective self-defense” to a limited degree. This means that, in the event that a country with which Japan shares a close relationship is attacked, Japan has the right to make a counterattack, deeming the attack to be one on Japan. The Yomiuri poll on the Constitution found that pollees are split over the legislation, with 46% saying that they approve of it and 50% saying they do not.


In the 18-to-29-year-old age group and the age group of those 70 or over, pollees backing the legislation exceeded those disapproving of it. Among other age groups, however, those disapproving of the legislation surpassed the number of those approving. By gender, 52% of men said they approve of the legislation, while 54% of women said that they do not.


In a telephone-based poll conducted in April 2016 right after the legislation came into effect, 38% of all respondents said that they approve of the security laws. The recent mail-in poll suggests that those who view the laws positively have come to make up a certain percentage of the population today four years after the legislation came into effect. No direct comparison can be made, however, because the polling methodologies differ.


In the recent poll, 53% said that the security-related legislation is “helpful” in strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, exceeding the 43% who said it is not. There was a difference in view by political party supported, about 70% of those supporting a ruling party said that the legislation is helpful. Slightly over 50% of independents and those supporting an opposition party said they disagree.


The poll also probed views on the “capability to attack enemy bases,” which is the ability to attack a military base in another country before that country attacks Japan provided it is clear that that foreign country will stage a missile attack on Japan. The government says that this capability is permitted under the Constitution but that Japan has made the policy decision not to possess such capabilities out of respect for Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy. In the survey, 51% of respondents said Japan should possess this capability while 44% said Japan should not.


By political party supported, slightly over 60% of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) supporters said that Japan should possess this ability, while Komeito supporters took a more cautious stance with slightly less than 60% saying that Japan should not possess this capability. Views were thus split among ruling party supporters. Meanwhile, slightly over 60% of those supporting the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) said that Japan should not possess the ability to attack enemy bases, and 50% of independents also said it should not.


[Polling methodology: The survey was implemented on a mail-in basis of a total of 3,000 persons chosen from among eligible voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified two-stage random-sampling basis). Questionnaires were sent out on March 10 to those chosen for the survey, and completed surveys were sent back by 2,212 persons by April 20. Valid answers were obtained from 2,130 persons (71%), excluding answers from those not subject to the survey. Breakdown of respondents: Male, 47%; female, 53%. Age 18–29, 11%; 30s, 15%; 40s, 18%; 50s, 18%; 60s, 16%; 70 and over, 22%.]

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