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86% say Japan's Constitution useful in postwar prosperity: survey

A total of 86 percent of respondents in survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and Saitama University's Social Survey Research Center say Japan's Constitution served a useful role in Japan's postwar prosperity.

    The survey was conducted between October and December this year. Among those who agreed that the Constitution had served a useful role, 34 percent said it had been "considerably" useful, while 52 percent said it had been useful "to some extent." Another 9 percent said it had not been very useful, while 2 percent said it had not been useful at all.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking a "departure from the postwar regime," and has shown his administration is prepared to alter the Constitution following the House of Councillors election next summer. Altogether, 86 percent of supporters of Abe's current Cabinet said the Constitution had served a useful role in Japan's postwar prosperity, as did 87 percent of supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). These levels were on par with the overall figure, indicating that positive views of the Constitution are widespread.

    The survey also questioned respondents on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The first part of Article 9 states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes," while the second part says that "land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained." A total of 57 percent of respondents said the first part should not be changed, while 46 percent said the second part should be left as-is. The proportion of those who favored changing the first and second parts totaled 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

    The reason that people are slightly less resistant to changing the second clause of Article 9 appears to be that people feel it odd that Japan actually maintains the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) already.

    Among both the ruling coalition and opposition parties, some hold the position that only the second part of Article 9 should be altered, clarifying the status of the SDF.

    Under a draft for revision of the Constitution compiled in 2012 by the LDP, the first clause of Article 9 was to be left mostly unchanged, while the second clause was to be altered with a clause pertaining to the establishment of a "national defense military."

    As part of the survey, respondents were given the option of having a donation made to a specific organization, such as the Japanese Red Cross Society or receiving payment in the form of a book voucher. The latest survey was the third of its kind. The survey queried 2,400 people, and valid responses were received from 1,468 people -- a 61 percent response rate.

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