42 per cent of Japanese favour constitutional amendment

Those who favour amending the Constitution outnumber those who oppose it by a one-point margin, according to results of the latest opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The nationwide survey, taken on Feb. 22 and 23, showed 42 per cent of respondents support an amendment to the Constitution, slightly more than the 41 per cent who said it would be better not to amend the top law.

The poll was conducted by making face-to-face requests for interviews of 3,000 randomly selected eligible voters at 250 locations nationwide. About 50 per cent, or 1,512 people, gave valid answers.

The number of people who were in favour of amending the supreme law dropped by nine percentage points from last year's survey in March. In that survey, 51 per cent supported revision of the Constitution, while 31 per cent opposed it.

Regarding the right to collective self-defence, which the government has maintained that Japan possesses but it cannot exercise, 27 per cent chose the answer that the government interpretation should be changed to enable the country to use the right, while 22 per cent said that the Constitution should be revised to let the nation use the right.

Together those who support allowing Japan to exercise the right come to 49 per cent.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of the respondents in the survey said, "It is OK for the country to continue being unable to exercise the right."

The survey also asked about problems surrounding Article 9 of the Constitution-which renounces war and prohibits the use of force-to which the government has referred for its interpretation and applications of the top law.

Asked what should be done about Article 9 hereafter, 43 per cent selected "Respond to problems through interpretation and application as the government has done," outnumbering the 30 per cent who chose "There are limits in the responses that can be made through interpretation and application, so Article 9 should be revised."

The percentage of those who think all political parties need to further discuss the supreme law remained high at 73 per cent, about the same level as last year's 76 per cent.

As for issues that should be given high priority in the Deliberative Council on the Constitution in each Diet chamber, two issues topped 50 per cent. The respondents were allowed to choose up to three answers to this question. "The government's authority in emergency situations including major disasters" was chosen by 53 per cent, while 51 per cent picked "Problems related to the renunciation of war and the Self-Defence Forces."

Asked which constitutional issues they are interested in, again with multiple answers allowed, "Renouncing war and SDF issues" topped the list at 47 per cent, followed by "Environmental problems" at 30 per cent. "Issues related to official visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the prime minister" was at 24 per cent, while "Privacy protection" and "Amendments to the Constitution" were at 22 per cent each.