The results of the poll should serve as a reminder to the Abe Cabinet, Japan’s neighbors, and the world at large that the politics of Japan’s normalization are far from simple.
While the survey has shown a consistent plurality in favor of constitution revision since 1993, now that the public is actually faced with a prime minister committed to revision, the percentage in favor fell nine points, while the percentage opposed rose seven points.
And that’s just the general question of constitution revision. When asked about revising Article 9, the text of which reads
- Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
- In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized
So what exactly is Abe hoping to achieve by constitution revision? The Japanese people aren’t particularly clamoring for the Abe Cabinet to rollback the restrictions enshrined in the Constitution. The slightly greater level of support for revision of the second clause of Article 9 (as opposed to the first clause) may show that the Japanese people acknowledge the awkward position of having increasingly robust Self-Defense Forces despite the restriction on armed forces in Article 9. (The existence of the JSDF depend on legal gymnastics that argue that the JSDF do not exist for the purpose of using force to settle international disputes, so their exist is permitted.) But that does not mean that the Japanese are demanding total normalization of Japanese security policy.
Will Abe, if and when he gets around to presenting a draft revision, respect that?