Nearly half of Japanese oppose new joint defense guidelines with U.S.: poll


Nearly half of people surveyed were opposed to the revised Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines announced earlier this week to give Japanese troops an expanded role beyond the country’s vicinity, a Kyodo News poll found Thursday.

While 47.9 percent said they were against the guidelines, 35.5 percent supported it, according to the telephone survey conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood at 52.7 percent, down 2.7 percentage points from the previous poll in March.

On Abe’s bid to enact legislation for Japan to play a greater security role based on the revised guidelines, 48.4 percent were opposed to his doing so during the ongoing Diet session through June, almost unchanged from the preceding survey.

Abe is expected to issue a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in August, and 50.4 percent of respondents said he should use keywords such as “remorse” and “apology” for people in other Asian countries that suffered under Japan’s “colonial rule and aggression.”

In the first address by a Japanese leader to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Abe expressed “deep repentance” over Japan’s role in the war, but he did not offer an apology for Japan’s wartime actions.

Touting the strengthening of the alliance with the U.S., Abe said he would push to have lawmakers pass security bills by this summer that would allow the Self-Defense Forces to defend allies under armed attack even when Japan itself is not.

As for the controversial issue of moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a replacement facility within Okinawa Prefecture, 45.6 percent expressed opposition to the government policy of forging ahead with underwater work for reclamation to build the facility, while 40.1 percent expressed support.

Meanwhile, 70.6 percent backed Japan-U.S. cooperation in defending islands, which was stipulated in the new bilateral defense guidelines in an apparent reference to remote islands such as the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan, in the East China Sea.

By political party, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 37.6 percent, down 4.5 points from the last survey, while 7.7 percent backed the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, up 1.2 points. A total of 36.4 percent said they do not endorse any particular party.

The survey, which was conducted by calling randomly selected households, reached 1,447 households with eligible voters and received valid responses from 1,020 people.

  • Liars N. Fools

    The problem for Japan is that Abe Shinzo has been the strongest leader that the country has had for some time. Unless someone actually gets killed or injured, the idea of essentially providing boots on the ground and on decks or butts in cockpit seats to work in conjunction with American military forces will likely continue.

    Whether Democratic or Republican, American administrations have waited a long tine for Japan to end its full fare free ride in defense and security.

    Too bad Abe is going against public opinion with some key policies. Too bad America does not seem to care what ordinary Japanese think, opting instead to grasp Henoko firmly and to welcome Japanese forces to come to the assistance of the stretched and stressed American military.

    • soudeska

      Considering how much Japan pays for those U.S. bases (a far greater percentage than any other country with U.S. bases, S.Korea, Italy, etc.) I wouldn’t exactly call it a “free ride”–more like a very expensive ride.

      Since the U.S. government doesn’t care what the average U.S. citizen thinks, it’s not surprising that they don’t care what Japanese citizens think either.

  • GBR48

    It’s no good whining about policies in opinion polls. If the Japanese people don’t like what Abe is doing, they shouldn’t keep voting him into power.

    The fuss about apologies: did Obama apologise to Japan for the US firebombing of cities of wooden homes full of Japanese civilians, and for testing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    Frankly, I’m no fan of historical apologies by politicians, as they are usually just cheap stunts. An apology on behalf of someone else, much less someone who is actually dead, is pointless. We are responsible for our own actions, not those of our ancestors. Only parents should be held responsible for the behaviour of others, should their children do something hideous and an investigation uncovers abuse or poor parenting.

    The future is more important than the past, and so of more concern is what is going into school textbooks as an account of history. In this area, it seems that most nations fail to a greater or lesser extent. China can hardly claim the moral high ground here, as the party line is always followed and criticism, popular or academic, is not tolerated.

    Since WWII Japan has led the way in Asia for the development of a modern, democratic society. It should remember this and hang on to those values, teaching their children an honest account of the past, atrocities and all, following internationally recognised academic norms. Living down to the standards of the neighbours is no way to behave.

    All nations should have the guts to be honest about their own history to their children. Lying to your kids about your history is shameful, as is lying to yourself about it.

  • Rafasa Arandas

    I would rather have America be allies with Japan than China.