Most oppose using force to aid ally: poll


More than half of the public opposes revising the government’s interpretation of the Constitution just for the sake of engaging in collective self-defense, a survey says.

According to a weekend telephone survey on the issue of collective defense, or aiding an ally that comes under military attack, 53.1 percent of the respondents oppose the change sought by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and 37.0 percent support it.

The survey, conducted Sunday and Monday by Kyodo News, also found the public approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet has jumped to 54.2 percent, up 6.6 points from two weeks ago, when it plunged after the secrecy law was rammed through the Diet.

Despite the rebound, it was the still the Cabinet’s second-lowest score since Abe returned to power in December last year.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile stood 33.0 percent, down from 38.4 percent in the Dec. 8 to 9 survey.

Abe is on a mission to change the way the government interprets the war-renouncing Constitution so Japan can exercise its U.N. right to collective self-defense, which implies the use of force.

The use of force to settle international disputes, however, is banned by Article 9.

New Komeito, the Buddhist-backed junior partner of Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party, is also wary of the move.

According to the poll, 63.1 percent of the public sees a need to reorganize the shattered opposition parties to create a viable force capable of replacing the LDP as the governing party.

However, 69.6 percent of the respondents don’t have high hopes for Yui no To, the new party launched by Kenji Eda after he bolted from the opposition Your Party with about a dozen other Diet members.

On energy policy, 65.7 percent of the respondents oppose Abe’s shift from the goal set by the previous Democratic Party of Japan-led government of eventually terminating atomic power, while 27.7 percent support the shift.

On foreign policy, 59.3 percent said they credit Abe’s leadership for crafting Japan’s first national security strategy to deal with China’s military expansion and North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Regarding the economy, 54.4 percent said they do not support the tax reform blueprint for fiscal 2014, compared with 39.6 percent who do. The reform plan hikes minicar and other burdens on households.

The survey also found 47.5 percent do not favor the draft fiscal 2014 state budget, which came in at a record high of ¥95.88 trillion, while 41.4 percent back it.

By party, 36.2 percent of the respondents said they support the LDP, down from 38.3 percent in the previous poll, followed by 6.1 percent who support the DPJ, down from 9.6 percent.

Five percent back the Japan Restoration Party (Nippon Ishin no Kai) and 4.5 percent support the LDP’s junior coalition partner New Komeito.

A whopping 35.6 percent said they do not support any party.

The survey was conducted on eligible voters across Japan, except some radiation-tainted regions of Fukushima Prefecture, by randomly dialing numbers chosen by computer.

Of the 1,437 households that answered the phone, 1,032 responded.

Abe’s main goal not economy after all

Calling it his “career goal,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed on a TV program over the weekend to revise the Constitution.

“For what purpose did I become a politician? I definitely want to carry through with it,” Abe said on the program, which aired late Sunday.

To achieve his aim, which requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Diet to initiate, Abe called for help from the second- and third-largest opposition parties, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, respectively.

“We still have three years in office. We will have to steadily do our job to lead Japan in the right direction,” Abe said.

“I can’t easily call it quits,” he added.

Unlike most of his predecessors over the past decade, few of whom served much longer than a year, Abe is supported by a coalition that has held a majority in both houses since the House of Councilors election in July.

On his administration’s immediate future, Abe said, “We are still halfway (to overcoming) deflation. I will attain a breakaway from deflation.”