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Japan’s constitutional rebirth or reincarnation?

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13.05.2017

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has boldly promised to revise the Constitution by 2020, to coincide with the Tokyo Summer Olympics, saying “That will be a year when a newly reborn Japan begins to move strongly forward.” However, the public doesn’t share his enthusiasm.

In terms of revising the Constitution, opposition is highest (50 percent) in the Asahi poll, followed by Nikkei’s 46 percent, Kyodo’s 37 and NHK’s 34. Support for revision ranges from 60 percent in the Kyodo poll (combining “necessary” or “somewhat necessary”) to 45 percent according to Nikkei, 43 percent from NHK (down 15 percent from 2002) and 41 percent in the Asahi. The Asahi Shimbun also reports that half oppose any revision at all under Abe.

For the war-renouncing Article 9, Asahi reports 63 percent as being opposed to revision; NHK gives 57 percent and Kyodo 47 percent. Those in favor of revising Article 9 range from 49 percent in the Kyodo poll to 29 percent in the Asahi and NHK’s 25 percent, down from 30 percent in 2002. NHK also reported that 82 percent found Article 9 very or somewhat useful for maintaining peace and security. Regarding the Self-Defense Forces, NHK found that 62 percent regard their existence as constitutional while 11 percent don’t, and 87 percent think that Japan is currently threatened, especially by North Korea and China.

Public attitudes may be discrepant, but Abe has an unprecedented opportunity to secure the two-thirds approval he needs in both houses of the Diet to set the stage for a public referendum, in which he would need only a simple majority to realize his long-standing dream.

The referendum law stipulates that a simple........

© The Japan Times