Poll: 63% Support Constitutional Revision Amid Japan’s Changing Security Environment; 93% Cite National Security Risk from China

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Sixty-three percent of people are in favor of amending the Constitution, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun, up from 61% in the previous year’s survey and the third consecutive year the figure has been in the 60% range.

This year’s figure is the highest since the mail-in survey was first conducted in 2015 and the second highest behind the 65% logged in a 2004 survey, although making comparisons is difficult since interviews were used in the 2004 survey.

In the latest poll, 35% of respondents were against amending the Constitution, up two percentage points from last year.

Regarding the war-renouncing Paragraph 1 of Article 9, 75% said revision was unnecessary, unchanged from the previous survey.

However, 53% considered there is a need to amend Paragraph 2 of Article9, which prohibits Japan from maintaining armed forces, up two percentage points from last year and the highest figure ever recorded. The figure exceeded those who considered there was no need to amend Paragraph 2 by 10 percentage point.

Meanwhile, 56% of respondents were in favor of a Liberal Democratic Party proposal to include grounds for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the Constitution, up two percentage points from the previous survey, while 40% were against it, up two percentage points.

The increase in the number of people in favor of constitutional amendment seems to reflect Japan’s changing security environment.

A total of 93% of respondents said that China’s military buildup and intrusions into Japan’s territorial waters “greatly” (59%) or “somewhat” (34%) threatened national security. The 93% total was repeated in a 2022 survey in which a similar question was asked. As for what should be done with Article 9 going forward, 44% said it should be amended — up from 43% in the previous survey — as interpreting and implementing its existing provisions is too restricting to deal effectively with pressing security issues. On the other hand, 38% said the current long-standing method of interpreting and implementing its provisions on a practical basis should continue, up from 37%.

Fourteen percent said Article 9 should be strictly followed and neither interpreted nor implemented on a practical basis, down from 15%.

The survey was conducted from March 12 to April 18 with 3,000 eligible voters nationwide, and 67%, or 2,002 people, gave valid responses.