• Kyodo

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A Kyodo News survey said Sunday 48.1 percent of the public opposes allowing the government to legally exercise Japan’s right to collective self-defense and 39 percent support it.

It also found that 51.3 percent of those polled oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to make that happen by reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution, in lieu of amending it, while 34.5 percent support the bid.

The telephone survey of 1,449 households with eligible voters drew 1,021 responses.

The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meanwhile dropped to 54.7 percent, down 5.1 points from the previous survey in April, a separate nationwide telephone survey over the weekend found.

The survey was conducted after Abe on Thursday confirmed his intention to lift the self-imposed ban on using collective self-defense, or coming to the defense of an ally under armed attack, by reinterpreting the Constitution’s Article 9, which renounces the right to wage war and use force to settle international disputes.

For decades, the government has maintained that Japan possesses the right to collective self-defense but cannot exercise it because of the limits imposed by Article 9.

As for the ruling coalition’s debate on the issue, 79.3 percent said the discussions should be held without regard to the fall deadline set by the government and Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Although the LDP-New Komeito ruling bloc is expected to officially open debate on Tuesday, New Komeito is wary of departing from the nation’s pacifist postwar security policy, which helped Japan become one of the world’s top three economies.

Meanwhile, 67.3 percent said it was necessary to come up with a legal framework to handle “gray zone” incidents against Japan that not full-fledged attacks, such as the takeover of remote islands by anonymous armed groups. But about 19.5 percent said it was unnecessary.

Also, 55.3 percent said the Cabinet should place priority on economic and employment measures rather than collective self-defense and constitutional revision.

On the economic front, 38.8 percent supported finishing the doubling of the consumption tax to 10 percent from 8 percent in October 2015, up 2.6 points from the previous survey, while 56.6 percent opposed it.

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