National

62% OK with Japan's ban on collective defense

Kyodo News

Sixty-two percent of people responding to a survey say the current government interpretation of the Constitution barring Japan from exercising the right to “collective self-defense” should remain intact, up 7.4 percentage points from the previous survey in April.

The telephone survey conducted over the weekend received responses from 1,054 eligible voters.

In Japan, the concept carries a sensitive political meaning because the pacifist Constitution did not foresee the security situation in East Asia today, in which the United States wants Japan to help shoot down North Korean missiles aimed at North America.

The proportion of respondents satisfied with the current constitutional interpretation of collective self-defense increased, and those who favor changing the interpretation to make it possible for Japan to exercise the right dropped by 5 points to 13.3 percent.

A total of 19.1 percent said the Constitution should be revised to enable Japan to exercise the right, a slight increase from 18.3 percent last month.

The survey was taken ahead of the scheduled launch this Friday of a government panel of outside experts for examining Japan’s right to collective self-defense.

The panel is dominated by members known to be critical of the current official interpretation, in line with Abe’s stance in favor of allowing Japan to come to the aid of an ally — namely the U.S. — when it is under attack.

However, 58.9 percent of the respondents said they think it is desirable for the matter to be deliberated by a panel of experts, as opposed to 31.4 percent who said they do not think so.

While the public has shown increased caution over the possible move to revise the Constitution or to change its interpretation over collective self-defense, many have a positive attitude toward debating the matter, apparently due to the changing security environment around Japan, including the threat from North Korea.

Meanwhile, the support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet rose by 3.4 points to 47.6 percent, marking an upswing since hitting a low in March when the rate fell below 40 percent for the first time.

But 62.1 percent of the respondents said they do not think it is appropriate for Abe to remain ambiguous over whether he gave an offering — a potted plant — to Yasukuni Shrine in late April, nearly double the 32.2 percent who said they thought it was appropriate.

Of those who said they support Abe’s Cabinet, 40.6 percent cited a lack of alternatives, followed by 23.1 percent who expressed confidence in the prime minister.

Of the 38.2 percent of respondents not supporting the Cabinet, 19.2 percent said they see no leadership qualities in Abe and 18.3 percent said they do not expect much from the administration’s economic policies.

The percentage of those choosing the response that they see no leadership qualities in Abe has been decreasing since peaking in March at 34.8 percent. The figure in the April survey was 28.1 percent.

An overwhelming 80.8 percent of respondents were in favor of tightening restrictions on the practice of “amakudari,” in which retired elite bureaucrats find jobs with firms and entities closely linked to their official roles, while 15.2 percent were against it.

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