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Over 85% say Japan at risk of going to war again: triennial survey

Kyodo

The results of a government survey released Saturday showed 85.5 percent of Japanese polled think Japan is at risk of getting involved in another war.

That’s up 10.0 points from the 2015 survey and the highest since 2009, when the same set of answers was first posed as part of a survey conducted every three years, according to the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office surveyed 3,000 men and women from Jan. 11 to 21 and drew valid responses from 55.7 percent. The latest survey was expanded to include anyone at least 18 years old, instead of 20 or older, in light of the new age of adulthood.

The survey was conducted before U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Thursday to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for an unprecedented bilateral summit by May, a move that could lead to a breakthrough on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Regional tensions have grown over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, which the hermit kingdom is pursuing in defiance of years of U.N. sanctions.

Of respondents who saw a growing risk of war, 84.5 percent listed “international tensions and antagonism” as the cause and 28.7 percent blamed the United Nations for not functioning sufficiently. The answer format for the survey was multiple choice.

Among the other responses, about 18.2 percent blamed Japan’s “inadequate self-defense capability” and 16.4 percent blamed “the existence of the Japan-U.S. security treaty.”

Only 10.7 percent of the respondents said they saw little or no risk of Japan being involved in war.

Asked to describe the capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces, 60.1 percent said “the current level is good,” 29.1 percent said it “should be enhanced,” and 4.5 percent said it “should be reduced.”

Another multiple-choice question that asked respondents to describe the role the SDF should play found “disaster response” was chosen by 79.2 percent, “ensuring the country’s security” by 60.9 percent, “maintaining domestic safety” by 49.8 percent, and “response to ballistic missile attacks” by 40.2 percent.

Another question asked about how the divisive security laws that took effect in 2016 benefit national security.

Some 42.4 percent said the SDF is now authorized to rescue Japanese during overseas emergencies, and 41.7 percent said Japan became able to help the United States and other friendly nations that come under armed attack even if Japan itself is not being attacked.