July 2015

Pros and Cons Running Neck and Neck on Constitutional Amendment

From the Attitude Survey on the Constitution of Japan

Hiroshi Aramaki / Miki Masaki

With the moves towards the constitutional amendment accelerated under the Abe administration, this article presents and analyzes the results of the “Attitude Survey on the Constitution of Japan,” an RDD telephone survey series conducted by NHK in 2007, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and offers longitudinal comparisons.

To a question on whether the constitutional amendment is necessary or not, “necessary” (41%) exceeded “not necessary” (24%) in 2007, but the pros and cons ran neck to neck in 2014 as the percentage of those finding it “necessary” decreased, and the trend continues in 2015 with 28% finding it “necessary” and 25% “not necessary.” Meanwhile, the opinion on the revision of the Article 9 had more “not necessary” (41%) than “necessary” (28%) in 2007, and although the pros and cons became almost even in 2013, “not necessary” topped again in 2014 as those finding it “necessary” decreased. The situation remains unchanged in 2015, with “not necessary” (38%) exceeding “necessary” (22%). Both supporters of the constitutional amendment and those of the revision of the Article 9 decreased in 2014 presumably because the public started taking a more cautious stance as the amendment had become a real possibility.

The 2013 and 2014 surveys saw increase in those cautious about the use of the right to collective self-defense. In 2015, even after the Cabinet decision to allow Japan to exercise the collective self-defense, those who are “against” it (30%) outstrip those “for” it (22%). Besides, only 15% find the Cabinet’s approval of the use of the right to collective self-defense, which the past Cabinets had never allowed, by reinterpreting the Article 9, not through the constitutional amendment, “appropriate.” Furthermore, no more than 32% think the government has explained to the public the reason for the approval “fully” or “to some extent.”

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research