• Kyodo

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While nearly 60 percent of Japanese people think the country’s Constitution needs be revised, 55 percent are opposed to constitutional revisions while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in office, a Kyodo News survey showed Friday.

On war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law, 49 percent said there is no need to change it, compared with 45 percent who said otherwise, according to the survey conducted ahead of the 70th anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution on Thursday.

The figures indicate Abe faces headwinds in his drive to rewrite the Constitution, which he sees as a product of the U.S.-led occupation after Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945. With Abe having expressed eagerness to change Article 9, the figures also suggest a sense of wariness among the public.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said constitutional revisions are “necessary” or “somewhat necessary.” But when asked about revisions while Abe is in office, 55 percent said they were against changes and those supporting changes in that time fell to 42 percent.

The survey covered 3,000 randomly selected people aged 18 or above nationwide. Questionnaires were sent by mail on Aug. 24 and 2,085 people sent back their answers by Sept. 30, with 1,977 valid responses.

In an interview survey conducted in June 2013, about six months after Abe took office for the second time, 63 percent of respondents supported constitutional amendments.

The latest poll also showed that 75 percent of respondents thought Japan had not used force overseas since the end of World War II due to Article 9, while 22 percent said the provision was unrelated to the lack of the use of force overseas.

Meanwhile, 51 percent of respondents were unhappy that the Upper House election in July led Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other pro-amendment forces to secure a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet that is legally required to propose constitutional amendments to the public. Another 46 percent found the election outcome favorable.

An amendment must be approved by two-thirds of each house and obtain majority support in a national referendum.

A bid has never been made to initiate a constitutional change, leaving the postwar supreme law untouched.

More than 70 percent of respondents also said constitutional amendment was not a major issue in the House of Councilors election. On the reason why the Constitution should be amended, 66 percent, the largest proportion, said it was no longer fitting for the time, followed by 22 percent who felt there is a need to add new rights and obligations to the charter.

On issues that should be discussed for possible amendment, many cited Article 9 and the Self-Defense Forces as well as the Imperial system.

Japan’s current Constitution was promulgated on Nov. 3, 1946, and put into effect on May 3, 1947.

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