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48% back revision of Japan's Constitution, 12 points up from last year: Mainichi poll

The original document of the Japanese Constitution is seen at the National Archives of Japan in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 11, 2017. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Forty-eight percent of respondents to a poll by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center said they support revision of the Japanese Constitution, surpassing the 31% who were against it.

    The poll was conducted nationwide on April 18 ahead of Japan's Constitution Memorial Day on May 3, the 74th anniversary of the supreme law taking effect in 1947.

    Meanwhile, 51% backed revising war-renouncing Article 9 to stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), while 30% of respondents were against such a move.

    The results cannot be simply compared to a previous poll conducted in April 2020, when Shinzo Abe was serving as prime minister, due to differences in survey methods and questions, but at that time, 36% of respondents supported "revision of the Constitution while Prime Minister Abe is in office," while 46% were against it. Last year, a draft revision compiled by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to stipulate the existence of the SDF was supported by 34% while 24% were against it.

    Breaking down the latest results, 58% of men supported constitutional revisions and 29% were against them, while 32% of women were in favor of change and 35% weren't. A similar tendency was seen regarding a stipulation on the existence of the SDF: 61% of men supported it and 28% were against it, while 32% of women backed it and 34% opposed it. Both sets of results implied that women were more cautious than men about revising the Constitution.

    Based on their political party affiliation, 67% of respondents supporting the LDP were in favor of constitutional amendments, while 63% of those who backed the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) were against it. Thirty-nine percent of people with no particular party affiliation supported revision, while 32% of them opposed it. A large proportion of LDP supporters -- 69% -- backed stipulation of the SDF in the Constitution, while the majority of CDP supporters in the poll -- 60% -- were against the move. Among independents, 42% were in favor of such a stipulation while 32% were not.

    The idea of clarifying the existence of the SDF in the Constitution was advocated by then-Prime Minister Abe in May 2017, and his LDP included it among four items in an amendment draft in 2018. Current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who succeeded Abe in September 2020, said during a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Nov. 4 last year that he would like to inherit the four items of the amendment draft as they are "the LDP's springboard for discussion."

    (Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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