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51% oppose Abe’s plan to submit constitutional revision plan to Diet: poll

Kyodo

More than 50 percent of the public is opposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to submit his party’s proposal to revise the Constitution to the extraordinary Diet session expected this fall, a Kyodo News survey showed Friday.

According to the survey, 51 percent of the respondents are against the move to submit the proposal from his Liberal Democratic Party, which elected Abe to a third term as president on Thursday, and 35.7 percent are in favor.

At a news conference following his victory in the LDP race, Abe expressed hope that the party would accelerate its preparations to submit the constitutional revision proposals to the upcoming session.

The constitutional issue, in particular how to deal with Article 9, was a major topic during the LDP leadership election. Abe’s sole challenger, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, once proposed a more drastic change, but modified his stance to say that Article 9 was not a priority amid a lack of public understanding.

Revising the supreme law is seen as difficult because proposals need to be approved by two-thirds of both chambers of the Diet and a majority in a national referendum. The Constitution has not been altered since it took effect in 1947 under the U.S.-led postwar occupation.

The telephone poll conducted Thursday and Friday across the country also said 57.4 percent of the respondents believe it is “problematic” for Abe to be a superpower without any strong opposition in and outside the party. Those who didn’t feel it was a problem stood at 33.6 percent, the survey said.

The survey also said 29.7 percent took it positively that Abe was re-elected, versus 24.9 percent who took it negatively. The remaining 44.7 percent said they could not decide either way.

Public support for Abe’s Cabinet stood at 47.4 percent, up 3.2 points from August, after the election. The disapproval rating for the Cabinet fell 2.4 points to 40.0 percent, it showed.

The survey also showed 54.1 percent said they were opposed to a planned consumption tax hike in October next year to 10 percent from the current 8 percent, while 41.2 percent were supportive.

Abe’s victory on Thursday paved the way for him to become Japan’s longest-serving leader.

The nationwide telephone survey collected valid responses from 507 people through landline telephones and 510 people with mobile phones.