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43% want existence of SDF mentioned in revised Constitution: Mainichi poll

Forty-three percent of participants in a recent Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll are in favor of having the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) mentioned in a revised Constitution in some form, it has emerged.

Specifically, 31 percent of pollees said they are in favor of keeping war-renouncing paragraph 1 in Article 9 of the Constitution as well as paragraph 2 -- which bans Japan from possessing any war potential -- and adding a paragraph on the existence of the SDF. Moreover, 12 percent want to delete paragraph 2 from Article 9, and instead replace it with a new paragraph stating that the SDF has war potential.

Meanwhile, the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet was found to be 44 percent -- a drop of 2 points compared to a previous poll in November 2017. In addition, the disapproval rating for his Cabinet increased to 38 percent, which is a 2-point increase since the last poll.

With regard to adding a paragraph on the SDF in the revised Constitution, 27 percent replied to say that they are not sure, suggesting that if discussions on the supreme law deepen in arenas such as the Diet, public opinion on this issue could shift further.

In May 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe brought up the idea of keeping paragraphs 1 and 2 in Article 9 as they are, but adding a new paragraph on the existence of the SDF.

However, people such as ex-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba have stated that unless paragraph 2 is deleted, the boundary between the "not having war potential" line in paragraph 2 and the role of the SDF would become vague. Furthermore, among those who support the LDP, it was found that 41 percent want to keep paragraphs 1 and 2 as they are, and 19 percent want to delete paragraph 2.

In addition, the poll revealed that 46 percent of respondents think that it is unnecessary for the Diet to initiate a revised Constitution draft within this year -- which exceeds the 36 percent that said it would be preferable to initiate one in 2018. However, the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution is aiming to initiate a draft this year, which 51 percent of LDP supporters are in favor of.

In the event that a national election could not be held due to a major disaster or attack from overseas, 46 percent of pollees said they are against adding a "state of emergency" paragraph to the Constitution that would recognize an extension in lawmakers' terms of office. This figure was higher than the 33 percent of people in favor of such a paragraph.

Pollees were also asked about the stance South Korean President Moon Jae-in's administration has taken on the 2015 accord between Japan and South Korea concerning comfort women, under which it stated that the agreement does not solve the problem, and that Japan should voluntarily apologize. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that they could not accept this view, while 6 percent said that they could.

In addition, 58 percent of pollees said that they valued the Japanese government's policy on aligning with the U.S. and South Korea in response to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program, and applying the maximum amount of pressure on North Korea, while 24 percent said that they do not.

The survey was conducted by the newspaper over a two-day period between Jan. 20 and 21.

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