Tuesday, May 6, 2008

66% Against Article 9 Revision

"Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war and bans Japan from maintaining military forces, should not be revised, said 66 percent of voters in a recent Asahi Shimbun survey. That figure is a sharp increase from 49 percent in a similar survey last year.

"In the nationwide poll to mark Constitution Day, only 23 percent of respondents said they believed the article should be revised, down from 33 percent a year ago.

"While 56 percent of voters said the Constitution should be amended, 54 percent of those in favor of amendment said Article 9 should remain intact, compared with 37 percent who said the article should be revised.

"The telephone survey was conducted April 19 and 20, prior to Saturday's 61st anniversary of the Constitution's introduction. Of the 3,600 people surveyed, 2,084, or 58 percent, gave valid responses.

"The survey showed that voters are less concerned about the issue of revising the pacifist article than during last year's survey. A year ago, the government of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed much public debate over the amendment, a long-time goal of his Liberal Democratic Party.

"Abe also fueled debate over Japan's collective self-defense, long interpreted by the government as unconstitutional.

"Under Abe's successor, Yasuo Fukuda, the Diet debated the constitutionality of dispatching Maritime Self-Defense Force troops to the Indian Ocean to provide logistic support for the United States-led war in Afghanistan.

"The recent survey also found that 56 percent of respondents believe it is necessary to amend the Constitution at some point, compared with 31 percent who said it should not be changed.

"In comparison, 58 percent a year ago said the Constitution needed revision, while 27 percent said it did not.

"In the latest survey, 74 percent of those in favor of amendment said they believe the Constitution should underscore civil rights and reflect social institutions that have become widely accepted in recent years.

"Of those who support revision, 13 percent said they think there is a problem with Article 9, while 9 percent said that the Japanese people should themselves write a new Constitution. Meanwhile, 52 percent of all respondents said constitutional amendment is a "realistic issue," while 35 percent said it will be a long time before it happens.

"Asked why amendment is not a pressing issue, 71 percent said that the public is not ready to see it happen, while 19 percent blamed political gridlock in the Diet and 5 percent said the issue lost its momentum with Abe's departure.

"Asked to rate the current state of the Diet, in which the opposition controls the Upper House, while the ruling coalition controls the Lower House, 62 percent said it is unfavorable. However, 58 percent said they opposed revising the Constitution to strengthen Lower House authority over the Upper House, compared with 23 percent that supported such a change."

By Asahi Shimbun (5/5/2008), Link to article (last visited 5/6/2008)

* Click here for more information about "Global Article 9 Campaign".

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