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66% say Diet should not rush to revise Constitution: Mainichi poll

Sixty-six percent of respondents in a recent Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll said the Diet does not have to rush to revise the postwar Constitution, while 24 percent said the legislature should.

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted the poll on Nov. 11 and 12 after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and other pro-constitutional amendment forces secured over two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives in the Oct. 22 general election, enough to initiate constitutional revisions in the chamber.

The respondents were split over whether they supported the proposal to add a paragraph stipulating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Article 9 while retaining its war-renouncing paragraph 1 and 2 that bans Japan from possessing any "war potential." Of the pollees, 33 percent expressed support for the proposal and 29 percent were against it, while 34 percent answered they were unsure.

In a Mainichi poll conducted on Sept. 2 and 3, 34 percent of the respondents said they were opposed to the proposal covering the existence of the SDF, while 27 percent were in favor, although the results of the two surveys cannot be simply compared because the details of the question differ.

In May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he would aim to have a revised Constitution come into force in 2020. However, he has been saying recently that he is not sticking to the schedule. Even among supporters of the LDP, 51 percent said in the latest survey that the Diet did not have to make haste to amend the supreme law.

The approval rating for the Abe Cabinet rose 10 points from the previous survey conducted on Sept. 26 and 27 to 46 percent. On the other hand, the disapproval rating fell 6 points to 36 percent.

When asked whether Abe should be re-elected LDP president to a third term after his current term ends in September 2018, 35 percent said Abe should stay on, while 53 percent said they wanted to see Abe replaced as LDP head. This shows that the prime minister has not regained popularity even though the approval rating for his Cabinet exceeded the disapproval rating.

When asked about reasons for supporting the Abe Cabinet, the largest ratio, 46 percent, replied that there was no better choice as an individual politician or political party than Abe and the LDP. As to reasons for disapproving the Abe Cabinet, the most common answer at 49 percent was that they did not appreciate Abe.

In the survey, the Mainichi received responses from 498 people from 811 randomly selected households with at least one eligible voter aged at least 18 on landline phones. Of 839 people aged at least 18, to whom the Mainichi tried to contact via mobile phones, 555 people responded to the poll. The response rate was 66 percent. When selecting telephone numbers for the opinion poll, those in areas designated as "difficult-to-return" zones following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis were excluded.

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