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Over 50% say no need to rush constitutional amendment debate: survey

Over 50 percent of respondents in a recent Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll said there is no need to rush discussion on constitutional amendment in the Diet, as opposed to the 35 percent who wanted the Diet to speed up debate on the issue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for putting the issue of constitutional revision on the table in his policy speech at the outset of the regular Diet session that convened on Jan. 20, saying, "Let's move forward to have in-depth discussion at the Commissions on the Constitution (at both houses of the Diet) to present a draft amendment to the people" as the pro-amendment camp has a two-thirds majority in both houses, enough to initiate constitutional revisions. However, 56 percent of pollees in the Mainichi Shimbun survey conducted on Jan. 21 and 22 said they see no need to rush the process. Even among those who support the Cabinet of Prime Minister Abe, 48 percent told the survey that the constitutional amendment debate does not have to be rushed, while 44 percent said it should.

Asked about the abdication of Emperor Akihito and revisions to the Imperial House Law for him to step down, 65 percent were in favor of changing the Imperial succession system to allow future emperors to also abdicate. Twenty-two percent said the planned special law for abdication should be limited to Emperor Akihito, while 4 percent said the Emperor should not be allowed to give up the throne. While the government plans to establish a special law only for the current Emperor to retire, it is also considering a plan to work on making what can be an abdication system, which will cover future emperors, by attaching a supplementary clause to the Imperial House Law in response to public opinion supporting the establishment of such a system.

Asked whether they supported the so-called "anti-conspiracy bill" that the government plans to submit to the current Diet session, in which preparations for crimes by organized crime syndicates will be subject to criminal charges, 53 percent said they supported the bill, while 30 percent didn't. Opposition parties have been critical of the proposed legislation, arguing that it could lead to human rights violations by investigative authorities.

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