The Cabinet’s approval rating slipped 4.3 points after its decision Tuesday to adopt a new defense posture for the nation by reinterpreting the Constitution.
In the telephone poll by Kyodo News on Tuesday and Wednesday, the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet stood at 47.8 percent, down from 52.1 percent in the survey taken from June 21 to 22. It was the first time the rating had slipped below 50 percent since December.
The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile soared to 40.6 percent from 33.0 percent with the most recent survey, topping 40 percent for the first time since Abe’s second administration came to power in December 2012.
The survey found 54.4 percent of respondents said they opposed the Cabinet’s decision to change Japan’s long-standing interpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, while 34.6 percent expressed support.
Women were more opposed than men, with 60.0 percent of female respondents against the change and only 24.9 percent in favor of it, compared with 48.4 percent of male respondents in opposition and 45.0 percent in support.
With the decision coming only a month and a half after the prime minister told the government and ruling parties to consider the change, 82.1 percent of the respondents said there was insufficient discussion on the issue.
Of the 1,010 respondents, 73.9 percent expressed concern that the scope for Japan to use collective self-defense could expand in the future, while 68.4 percent said Abe should call a general election to let voters decide.
About 61.2 percent of respondents said Japan is now more likely to get sucked into a war, disagreeing with Abe’s argument that collective self-defense will serve as a further deterrent to conflict. Only 34 percent agreed it would be a deterrent.
A total of 73.2 percent said they oppose sending the Self-Defense Forces to participate in collective security efforts involving the use of force.
Asked whether reinterpreting rather than revising the Constitution was an appropriate way to achieve the change, 31.7 percent agreed but 60 percent disagreed.
New Komeito, the junior coalition partner to Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, assented despite misgivings over the issue.
In all, 65.6 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the Buddhist-backed party’s about-face. Among New Komeito’s own supporters, 49 percent said they disagree with the decision, surpassing the 42.4 percent who expressed satisfaction with it.
Opposition by supporters of New Komeito has shown signs of softening, however, with 52 percent now opposed to permitting the exercise of collective self-defense, down from 70 percent from the Kyodo poll conducted from June 21 to 22.