62% running for Upper House support changing Constitution

About 62 percent of presumptive candidates in the July 11 House of Councilors election either call for or condone changing the Constitution, according to results of a survey released Sunday.

All those planning to run on the tickets of the Liberal Democratic Party or its coalition partner, New Komeito, said they approve of a constitutional revision. Some 77 percent of those intending to run for the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, likewise said they support a revision.

Among LDP candidates, 69 percent selected an answer saying the Constitution “must be changed,” while 31 percent were a bit more cautious, saying that the Constitution could be amended “as a result of debate.”

DPJ and New Komeito candidates held a less emphatic stance, with only 15 percent of DPJ candidates and 10 percent of New Komeito candidates saying they think the Constitution must be revised.

The remaining DPJ and New Komeito candidates approving of change said they would condone revision that may take place as a result of discussions.

Kyodo News surveyed 265 people who had announced by May 24 that they will vie for 121 seats in the Upper House election, of which 254, or 96 percent, responded.

The respondents included 71 LDP candidates, 72 DPJ candidates, 10 New Komeito candidates, 51 running for the Japanese Communist Party and 14 Social Democratic Party candidates.

Of those who favor revising the Constitution, the majority said they support revising Article 9, which says the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation.

However, most of those supporting a revision of the article were LDP candidates, with 90 percent saying such a change is necessary.

The survey found 48 percent of LDP candidates want to revise the preamble of the Constitution and 42 percent want to have a revision in terms of undertaking international contributions. The respondents were allowed to cite up to three points of the Constitution they want changed.

But only 10 percent of those running as a candidate from New Komeito said they want to rewrite the war-renouncing Article 9, suggesting a large gap within the ruling coalition on how specifically the Constitution should be amended.

All New Komeito candidates, meanwhile, said they want to revise the Constitution to include environmental protection.

Among DPJ candidates, 35 percent said they want to see a revision of Article 9, while 62 percent said they want to amend the Constitution for decentralization of power from the national government to local authorities, followed by 60 percent wanting to include environmental protection.

On the sensitive issue of collective defense, 83 percent of the prospective LDP candidates said Japan should be allowed to exercise its right to collective defense with its allies.

However, 80 percent of New Komeito candidates replied that Japan should not be allowed to engage in collective defense.

The government has interpreted the Constitution as banning the nation from exercising its right to collective defense.

In addition to their stance on the Constitution, the survey showed that most candidates believe issues related to the social security system will be central in the election.

To support the ailing social welfare system, 41 percent of the respondents were supportive of raising the consumption tax rate to cover the rising costs of pension, medical and nursing care programs, while 34 percent expressed opposition.