Monday, May 4, 2009

"64% oppose revising Article 9

"Almost two in three people are opposed to revising war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, while slightly more than one in two thinks the Constitution needs amending, according to an Asahi Shimbun survey.

"The telephone survey, conducted prior to Constitution Day Sunday, showed entrenched public support for the pacifist clause.

"Of the 2,094 eligible voters who gave valid responses to the April 18-19 poll, 64 percent said it was better not to change Article 9, while 26 percent supported its amendment.

"Even among those who saw a need to revise the Constitution itself, accounting for 53 percent of all respondents, opponents to changing Article 9 surpassed supporters, 49 to 42 percent.

"Thirty-three percent said there was no need to change the Constitution.

"In similar surveys in 2007 and 2008, 58 percent and 56 percent were in favor of constitutional revisions, respectively, compared with 27 percent and 31 percent against.

"As for Article 9, the gap between those who opposed amendment and those in favor was smaller in April 2007 than this year, at 49 to 33 percent. Shinzo Abe, an advocate of constitutional amendment, was prime minister at that time.

"The gap widened to 66 to 23 percent in the April 2008 survey when Yasuo Fukuda was prime minister, almost the same as this year.

"Respondents in favor of change were asked what changes they would like made.

"Given two alternatives, 50 percent chose an answer that said the change should only go as far as the incorporation of the current Self-Defense Forces into the article.

"Forty-four percent said the article should clearly stipulate that the SDF is a military force, as in other countries.

"Of those who saw a need to revise the Constitution, 74 percent said new rights and systems should be incorporated. Fifteen percent said it was because of problems with Article 9, while 9 percent said they wanted to have a Constitution drawn up by Japanese.

"Of those against constitutional amendment, the largest group, 44 percent, said they were afraid Article 9 could be changed. Thirty-six percent said the Constitution was well accepted by the nation, with no problems that required changes, and 14 percent said it helps guarantee freedom and rights.

"In part due apparently to an anti-piracy mission off Somalia, the latest survey showed a marked increase in the ratio of those who approve of the SDF's use of force if the need arises during overseas missions, at 32 percent, from 17 percent a year ago.

"This year, 56 percent approved of SDF troops' overseas missions if they did not use force, while 9 percent oppose any overseas missions, against 64 and 15 percent, respectively, in 2008."

By Asahi Shimbun (5/4/2009), Link to article (last visited 5/4/2009)