MAJOR SECURITY SHIFT: 9% satisfied with collective self-defense debate; Cabinet support falls to 43%

June 23, 2014

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Only 9 percent of voters feel the Abe administration has conducted sufficient debate on drastically changing Japan’s postwar security policy, while the Cabinet’s support rating fell to a new low, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Around 76 percent of voters said debate has been insufficient in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to reinterpret the war-renouncing Constitution to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, according to the survey.

The nationwide telephone survey conducted on June 21-22 found that only 28 percent of respondents were in favor of Japan exercising that right, compare with 56 percent who were opposed.

Even among those in favor of exercising the right, only 28 percent said debate has been sufficient, while 59 percent said debate has been insufficient, the survey showed.

The support rate for the Cabinet tumbled from 49 percent in a May survey to 43 percent, the lowest level since Abe began his second stint as prime minister in December 2012. Thirty-three percent of respondents in the latest survey said they do not support the Abe Cabinet.

A gender gap was seen in the support ratings. Fifty percent of male respondents supported the Cabinet, compared with 31 percent who opposed it. But there was very little difference among female respondents; 36 percent supported the Cabinet and 35 percent opposed it.

The poll also asked respondents about the strength of their feelings toward the Cabinet.

Among supporters of the Cabinet, 41 percent said they would continue backing the Abe administration, while 55 percent said they might withdraw their support later.

Fifty-seven percent of those who opposed the Cabinet said they would continue to do so, compared with 35 percent who cited the possibility of supporting the Cabinet in the future.

Just over half of all Cabinet supporters, or 51 percent, also favored allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, while 35 percent were against giving Japan that right.

Only 11 percent of nonsupporters of the Cabinet favored exercising the right, while 80 percent were opposed.

Among respondents who said they supported the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 47 percent favored exercising the right, while 37 percent were opposed.

Among supporters of junior coalition partner New Komeito, which has been reluctant to go along with Abe’s reinterpretation plan, close to 70 percent were against Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Nearly 90 percent of New Komeito supporters said debate on the issue has been insufficient. More than 60 percent of those who support the Cabinet and the LDP had the same opinion.

Overall, only 17 percent of respondents in the survey described as “appropriate” the Abe administration’s plan to change the government’s interpretation instead of going through the constitutional procedures, including a national referendum, to revise the nation’s supreme law. Sixty-seven percent said Abe’s strategy to allow for the exercise of the right was “inappropriate.”

The Abe administration has listed scenarios for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, including defending U.S. warships under attack. The government has also floated the idea of allowing Japan to use force in U.N. collective security measures.

Only 20 percent of respondents favored the use of force in collective security, while 65 percent were opposed. Among Cabinet and LDP supporters, less than 40 percent were in favor and more than 50 percent were opposed.

Among New Komeito supporters, close to 70 percent were opposed.

The telephone survey contacted 3,458 randomly selected households across Japan and received valid responses from 1,756 individuals.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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