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77% of general election winners in favor of amending Japan's Constitution: survey

This March 22, 2016 file photo shows Japan's House of Representatives. (Mainichi/Taro Fujii)

TOKYO -- Some 77% of candidates who were elected to the House of Representatives in the Oct. 31 general poll are in favor of revising Japan's Constitution, well over the two-thirds majority necessary to initiate constitutional amendment in the chamber, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.

    The Mainichi Shimbun on Nov. 1 tallied and analyzed the results of a questionnaire it earlier conducted on all candidates in the election, this time focusing on winners in the contest. Of them, 77% backed constitutional amendment, in excess of the 310 seats necessary to propose constitutional reform in the 465-seat chamber, while 17% were against.

    Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier expressed his eagerness to amend the Constitution during the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s presidential election in September, saying, "I'd like to have a prospect on the issue during my term as party president."

    Now that the conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party, JIP), which is in favor of constitutional revision, has increased its lower house seats in the general election, while the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) -- which has maintained reservations about amending the supreme law -- has lost seats in the chamber, the focus now is on how Prime Minister Kishida will act on the issue.

    Among the election winners, 98% of LDP and JIP members, respectively, were in favor of reforming the Constitution, as were 91% of the opposition Democratic Party for the People members. The figure stood at 61% among members of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the LDP, while 23% were against. Among successful candidates who ran on the CDP ticket, 56% were opposed to revising the supreme law, while 30% were in favor. All 10 of the Japanese Communist Party election winners were against constitutional changes.

    Of those elected who are in favor of constitutional amendment, 73% said the presence of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) should be written into the Constitution by revising war-renouncing Article 9, while 4% said the SDF should be transformed into national defense forces like in other countries. Some 77% said an "emergency clause" should be written into the supreme law. The emergency clause is designed to give more authority to the Cabinet by suspending or limiting constitutional principles in the event of a major disaster.

    In regard to tightening restrictions on private rights to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by introducing laws enabling lockdowns and through other measures, 48% of the election victors were in favor of the move, while 40% were opposed. As for coronavirus measures in the future, 54% said the government's current policy is fine as it is, forming the largest group, while 26% answered that the focus should be placed on preventing the spread of infections.

    (Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department, and Ko Sato, Poll Office)

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