Fifty-nine percent of voters do not support moves by the Abe administration to change the current interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense, according to a weekend poll by The Asahi Shimbun. This compares with 27 percent of voters who do.
The proposal has come to be one of the defining policy steps promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since he took office for a second time last December.
For the Aug. 24-25 survey, 3,269 voters nationwide were contacted by telephone. Fifty-one percent, or 1,658, gave valid responses.
By gender, 38 percent of male respondents supported the proposal and 54 percent opposed it. The difference was more obvious among female respondents: 64 percent were against the proposal, more than three times the 17 percent who expressed support.
Among the 55 percent of respondents who support the Abe Cabinet, 37 percent supported the proposal while 49 percent opposed it. The opposition was more obvious among the 27 percent of respondents who do not support the Cabinet: 13 percent supported the proposal while 81 percent opposed it.
Even among the 38 percent of respondents who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 37 percent backed the proposal and 48 percent did not.
Among the 45 percent of independent voters, 21 percent supported the proposal and 63 percent opposed it.
With regard to Abe's decision not to visit the war-related Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, 63 percent of respondents answered that it was “appropriate,” far outnumbering the 20 percent who said it was “inappropriate.”
But with regard to visits to the shrine by three Cabinet ministers on that day, the approval rate of 41 percent slightly exceeded the 37 percent who disapproved.
The survey also canvassed views on Abe’s speech at a government-sponsored memorial service for the war dead on the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II in which he made no mention of the damage inflicted by Japan on Asian nations. Forty-percent of respondents both approved and disapproved of the omission.
Abe's speech provoked strong criticism from both China and South Korea, which were also angered by the visits to Yasukuni Shrine by three Cabinet ministers.
Voters were also asked whether the Abe Cabinet should address the criticism. Thirty-four percent said the Cabinet should take the criticism seriously, while 52 percent disagreed.
By gender, 31 percent of male respondents answered “Yes,” nearly half of the 59 percent of those who answered “No.” Among female respondents, 37 percent said “Yes” and 45 percent said “No.”
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