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59% see no need to amend Constitution by 2020: Mainichi poll

Some 59 percent of respondents to a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll over the weekend saw no need to speed up discussions on constitutional revisions with the aim of having a revised supreme law take effect in 2020, a goal set by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The figure is well above the 26 percent who answered that Japan should speed up discussions to that end.

The public was split over a proposal made by the prime minister to add a paragraph defining the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Article 9 while retaining the clause's war-renouncing paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 that bans Japan from possessing any potential for war. Some 31 percent of the pollees expressed opposition to the proposal and 28 percent were in favor of the idea, while 32 percent said they were unsure over the matter.

Nearly half, 49 percent, of the respondents said they do not think Article 9 should be reformed, up 3 points from the previous poll conducted in April, while 33 percent said the war-renouncing clause should be amended, also an increase of 3 points from the previous survey.

Of those who were in favor of amending Article 9, 69 percent expressed support for the prime minister's proposal to add a paragraph defining the SDF to the clause, although there are a considerable number of those supportive of amending that clause who are calling for revisions to paragraph 2.

Prime Minister Abe, who has taken the position that talks on constitutional revisions should be left to the commissions on the Constitution in both chambers of the Diet, recently made specific proposals on reform of the supreme law in the capacity of president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Of the respondents, 48 percent said the way the prime minister is promoting discussion on the issue is problematic, well above the 31 percent who said they have no issue with his method. However, 51 percent of those who support the Abe Cabinet saw no problem with the way the prime minister is promoting discussions while 84 percent of those who disapprove the Cabinet said they have an issue with it.

The approval rating for the Abe Cabinet is 46 percent, down 5 points from the April poll, while the disapproval rating came to 35 percent, 5 points more than the previous survey.

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted the opinion poll on May 20 and 21, covering 1,634 households with at least one eligible voter randomly selected from across the country, excluding areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis and designated as zones where it is difficult for residents to return in the foreseeable future. A total of 1,044 people from these households took part in the survey. The response rate was 64 percent.

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