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56% oppose amending Constitution under Abe gov't: Kyodo poll

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party's headquarters in Tokyo, on July 22, 2019, a day after the House of Councillors election. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- More than half of Japanese voters oppose amending the postwar pacifist Constitution under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, a Kyodo news survey conducted after an upper house election showed Tuesday.

In the two-day telephone survey from Monday, 56.0 percent opposed Abe's drive for constitutional revision, while 32.2 percent expressed support. Pro-amendment forces' failure in the election to retain a two-thirds majority in the upper chamber, required to initiate constitutional revision, was viewed positively by 29.8 percent and negatively by 12.2 percent.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party has proposed a constitutional revision plan centering on clarifying the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces in the war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law.

Changing the Constitution requires two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Diet and a simple majority in an eventual national referendum. The ruling coalition controls a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house, but the outcome of Sunday's House of Councillors election means that it will have to look for support among the opposition camp.

The support rate for Abe's Cabinet stood at 48.6 percent, up from 47.6 percent in June, while the disapproval rate was 38.2 percent.

In the survey, 52.6 percent were opposed to Abe serving a fourth consecutive three-year term as LDP chief, which would require changing the current party limit of three terms, while 40.6 percent were supportive.

Abe will become the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in November.

Regarding the government's plan to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent in October from the current 8 percent, 55.9 percent of respondents opposed the plan, while 39.8 percent expressed support.

The poll found that 64.9 percent did not view the public pension system as sustainable, after estimates for required retirement savings in a recent financial panel report caused widespread concern.

By party, the LDP was supported by 37.0 percent of respondents, the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan by 13.5 percent, the Japan Innovation Party by 6.8 percent and the Japanese Communist Party by 5.3 percent.

The Komeito party, the LDP's junior coalition partner, was supported by 4.6 percent of respondents, while the Democratic Party for the People was at 1.7 percent and the Social Democratic Party at 0.7 percent.

Anti-establishment Reiwa Shinsengumi and NHK Kara Kokumin Wo Mamoru To (The Party to Protect the People from NHK), which newly won status as parliamentary parties, were supported by 2.2 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively.

Around a quarter of respondents did not support any party.

The survey covering 736 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,263 mobile phone numbers obtained responses from 516 and 513 people, respectively.

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