National / Politics

Coalition ally New Komeito, DPJ harbor doubts: poll

LDP hopefuls back altering Constitution


Most of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates for the July 21 House of Councilors election favor revising the postwar Constitution — the goal of their leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a poll indicates.

Of those planning to run on the LDP ticket, 97.1 percent said the Constitution should be revised. None of them said the 1946 charter should not be amended, the Kyodo News poll found. No margin of error was given.

But only 63.6 percent of those who plan to run for New Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, think the Constitution should be revised, compared with 27.3 percent who believe it shouldn’t.

In contrast, only 23.4 percent of the candidates who plan to run from the DPJ favor constitutional amendment. In a set of election promises for the upcoming poll, the DPJ promised to consider a “future-oriented Constitution.”

The survey covered 406 expected candidates in the election from all parties as of June 24, of whom 374 responded.

They comprised 70 who plan to run from the LDP, 62 from the Japanese Communist Party, 47 from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, 42 from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), 30 from Your Party, 11 from New Komeito, eight from the Social Democratic Party, seven each from Seikatsu no To (People’s Life Party) and Midori no Kaze (Green Wind), as well as 73 from minor parties and 17 independents.

Of those who favored constitutional revision, 64.7 percent of the LDP’s expected candidates called for strengthening the prime minister’s powers in the event of an emergency, and 63.2 percent urged that Japan’s right of collective self-defense be written into the Constitution. Multiple answers were allowed.

All of the New Komeito’s expected candidates called for clearly enshrining new human rights, such as environmental rights.

Among other parties, all of those who intend to run on Nippon Ishin’s ticket replied that they favor constitutional revision. But none of the respondents among the expected candidates from the JCP, SDP and Midori no Kaze support the charter’s amendment, while 71.4 percent of the likely Seikatsu no To candidates are opposed to revisions.

Of all the respondents, 59.1 percent back constitutional amendment, while 54.3 percent are against the LDP’s proposal to relax requirements to initiate a revision of the Constitution to a majority of each house of the Diet from the current two-thirds, as stipulated in Article 96.

In a draft proposal to alter the Constitution released last year, the LDP proposed to make the Emperor head of state rather than his current title as symbol of the state and to rename the Self-Defense Forces, in addition to calling for exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Abe has expressed plans to change the Constitution to position the SDF as a full military and allow it to engage in collective self-defense, which would allow Japan’s armed forces to come to the aid of an ally under armed attack.

Asked what policies should take priority, with multiple answers allowed, 65.5 percent of the respondents chose economic and employment affairs, 35.3 percent nominated social security reforms and 24.3 percent favored steps to restore areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.

Of the LDP’s expected candidates, 77.1 percent selected economic and employment matters, compared with 7.1 percent who stressed constitutional revision.

The poll also covered the prime minister’s bold “Abenomics” plan of stoking inflation via radical credit easing, public works spending and structural reform. It found that 98.6 percent of the LDP candidates support these policies, while 95.7 percent of the DPJ’s candidates oppose them.

The survey also showed that 38.6 percent of the LDP candidates back Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks. Only 21.4 percent are opposed.

It also said 76.7 percent of Your Party candidates supported Japan’s participation in the ongoing TPP negotiations — the highest ratio among all the parties. However, none of the candidates from Seikatsu no To, the JCP, the SDP and Midori no Kaze supported it.

On Friday, Abe’s Cabinet set election day for the Upper House poll on July 21. Campaigning will begin July 4.

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