Over half of candidates in the July 21 House of Councillors election who answered a Mainichi Shimbun survey are opposed to amending war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.
Of the 349 respondents, 184, or 53% voiced opposition to revising Article 9 that renounces war and bans Japan from possessing any war potential such as land, sea, and air forces.
Some 20 individuals, or 87% of candidates fielded by Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said they were against amending the clause, although they are regarded as pro-constitutional reform forces. None of the Komeito candidates surveyed insisted that the clause be rewritten to explicitly stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). In contrast, most LDP candidates expressed enthusiasm about revising the clause.
While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as president of the LDP, is trying to make reform of the postwar Constitution a key point of contention during the ongoing campaigning, the survey highlights differences within the ruling bloc over the issue.
The Mainichi Shimbun surveyed all 370 candidates in the upper house poll over key policy issues, and 349 of them, or 94.3%, had replied by July 9.
Among the respondents, 171, or 49% are in favor of constitutional revisions in general. By party affiliation, 97% of LDP candidates (75 individuals), 65% of those who are running on the ticket of Komeito (15 individuals), all 21 candidates officially endorsed by Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), and 25% of Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) candidates (seven individuals) responded in the affirmative.
Of those who replied, 135, or 39% expressed their objection to any change to the supreme law.
Regarding revisions to pacifist Article 9, 17% of all respondents, or 59, called for the clear stipulation of the existence of the SDF, while a mere 27, or 8%, insisted that the SDF be turned into a national defense force, similar to armed forces in other countries.
Of the 77 LDP respondents, 35%, or 27 individuals, called for the stipulation of the SDF's existence in the Constitution, while 3% voiced opposition to the idea. Many LDP candidates, instead of choosing an option, answered that a paragraph defining the role of the SDF should be added to Article 9 while maintaining its paragraphs 1 and 2 in line with the LDP's draft of constitutional revisions. Only 1%, or one individual, answered that Japanese forces should become full-scale national defense forces in line with the LDP's previous draft released in 2012.
Among candidates running on the ticket of Nippon Ishin, also regarded as a pro-constitutional reform force, 76% (16 individuals) responded that the SDF should be clearly stipulated in the supreme law.
Among opposition parties against constitutional revisions, all Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party candidates opposed changes to Article 9, while 95% of Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan candidates (41 individuals) were against revisions to the clause. Of the DPFP candidates, 54%, or 15, voiced objection to amendments to Article 9 and 39% (11 individuals) did not clarify whether they were in favor of or against changes to the clause, while 7% (two individuals) called for the explicit definition of the SDF.
Two ruling coalition partners were divided over the government response to the Finance Ministry's doctoring of official documents on the heavily discounted sale of a state-owned land lot to Moritomo Gakuen, a school operator that was linked to Prime Minister Abe's wife Akie.
Over half, or 55% of LDP candidates (42 individuals) replied that the government's response to the matter was sufficient, while 70% of Komeito candidates (16 individuals) answered it was insufficient.
(Japanese original by Shuhei Endo, Political News Department)