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50% say no need for Diet to initiate constitutional reform in 2018: poll

The National Diet Building (Mainichi)

Fifty percent of respondents to a weekend Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll believe there is no need for the Diet to initiate constitutional amendment before the end of the year, up 4 percentage points from the previous survey last month.

The nationwide telephone survey, which was carried out on Feb. 24 and 25, came as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) aims to have the legislature propose constitutional revision by the end of 2018. The poll saw the percentage of those who think the Diet should initiate constitutional change by the year's end drop to 34 percent, down 2 points from the January survey.

Among LDP supporters, 47 percent were in favor of seeing the Diet propose constitutional reform within this year, surpassing the 41 percent who were against such a move. Among those with no party affiliations, 57 percent said the Diet did not need to initiate the process to alter the supreme law later this year.

As for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposal to clearly stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the pacifist Constitution, 37 percent of respondents were in favor of adding a new clause pertaining to the SDF while retaining the first and second paragraphs of the war-renouncing Article 9 -- well over the 14 percent who favored characterizing the SDF as war potential while deleting Article 9's second paragraph, which bans Japan from possessing any war potential.

The fact that the percentage of those who support Prime Minister Abe's proposal to retain the second paragraph is relatively high in the survey may affect discussions within the LDP toward drafting the revision.

Altogether 20 percent of respondents said it is not necessary to stipulate the SDF in the supreme law, while another 20 percent said they were not sure about the question.

The poll also asked about the pros and cons of reactivation of nuclear reactors in Japan, as the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Genkai atomic power station in Saga Prefecture are expected to be restarted as early as this coming March. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they are opposed to putting domestic reactors back online, while 32 percent said they supported the move. In the March 2017 poll, those against reactor restarts also outnumbered those in favor, at 55 percent versus 26 percent, though a simple comparison cannot be made as the two surveys employed different questions and survey methods.

With regard to the government's proposal to reappoint Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, who has pressed ahead with an ultra-easy monetary policy to support the Abe administration's economic policy, for another term, 39 percent of respondents said they endorse the plan, as opposed to 35 percent who were against it.

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