Japan Still Divided Over War Renunciation Constitution Review: Survey

Half of respondents in a Kyodo News survey published on Monday believe Japan should amend Article 9 of the Constitution which renounces war to clarify the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces, with the level of support virtually unchanged compared to a year ago despite growing concerns. on regional security.

Amid growing calls for an amendment among lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and some other parties following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 50% said there was a need to revise the Article 9, while 48% said it was not.

A member of the Maritime Self-Defense Forces raises the Japanese national flag on the destroyer Takanami in February 2020 in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. (Kyodo)

The figures compare to 51 percent in favor of an amendment and 45 percent against in a similar poll conducted last year.

The survey was conducted between March 1 and April 11 by mail ahead of Constitution Remembrance Day on Tuesday, targeting 3,000 people aged 18 or older, 65.3% of whom gave valid responses.

Lawmakers’ support for the article’s revision has grown amid concerns about China’s pressure on Taiwan, a self-governing democratic island that Beijing considers its own, and renewed threats posed by recent North Korean missile launches. Some security and political experts fear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could encourage China to attack Taiwan.

But the latest poll shows that Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine hasn’t helped bolster public momentum for the overhaul.

File photo taken on April 7, 2017 shows the original Constitution document at the National Archives of Japan in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

Article 9 of the Constitution renounces war and prohibits the possession of military forces and other “war potentials”. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during his tenure that clarifying the legal status of the SDF was vital to end arguments that Japanese forces are “unconstitutional”.

The government said the article did not prohibit the country from maintaining its ability to defend itself and thus allowed Japan to possess defense forces.

The post-war Constitution, drafted under the Allied occupation of Japan led by the United States after World War II, has never been revised since it came into force in 1947.

Any proposal for revision must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the upper and lower houses before the proposal can be put to a national referendum.

In the survey, 76% said Japan had not gone to war since the end of World War II because of Article 9, up 9 percentage points from the year’s poll. last.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reiterated on a TV broadcast that amending the Supreme Law, including Article 9, based on the LDP’s proposal is a task Japan faces to deal with the evolution of the security situation.

However, the survey revealed that only 29% believe that the momentum towards the revision of the article is increasing or increasing somewhat, while 70% do not think so.

Some 76% support amending the Constitution to introduce an emergency clause to better respond to the coronavirus pandemic and other disasters while 23% oppose such a revision.

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