44% of Okinawans support Article 9, while 22% favor revision, ambivalent responses increase

May 3, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

With the approach of Constitution Memorial Day on May 3, the Ryukyu Shimpo conducted a public opinion poll of Okinawans at the end of April. The poll was conducted by telephone and included questions about the revision of Article 9 of the constitution, including its clauses on war renunciation and non-maintenance of war potential, as well as about the proposed revision of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes, which includes a clause on the crime of conspiracy. With regard to Article 9, the largest number of people, 44.2%, stated they believe it should be maintained, this number exceeding the number of those who said it should be revised, 21.7%, by 22.5 percentage points. These numbers once again indicated that although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is intent upon revising the constitution, including Article 9, there is strong support for maintaining Article 9 in Okinawa.

Regarding the “crime of conspiracy,” which is currently under debate in the Diet, 34.4% of respondents said they are opposed, more than 19.2 percentage points higher than the 15.2% who said they were in favor of the related law. Meanwhile, 46.8% answered “I can’t say either way.” In addition to the strong opposition, it was also clear that insufficient debate has left many people unable to make a decision.
Regarding the crime of conspiracy, by gender, 17.5% of men and 13.1% of women were in favor of a law rendering it a punishable offense, while 37.7% of men and 31.1% of women were opposed. Respondents answering “I can’t say either way” were 43.8% of men and 49.7% of women.

Regarding revision of Article 9 of the constitution, a telephone poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo in 2014 showed 60.9% of people responding that “Article 9 should be maintained and not changed.” In a poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Television Broadcasting Co., Ltd. (OTV) in 2015, 70.2% of respondents said that “it is not necessary to revise” Article 9.

In the present poll as well, many respondents called for Article 9 to be maintained, but the proportion decreased compared to previous years. Meanwhile, compared to the roughly 4% to 5% of respondents who answered “I don’t know” in 2014 and 2015, in the present survey, 32% of respondents answered “I can’t say either way” and 2.1% responded “I don’t know”, indicating that the number of people unable to express either support or opposition increased. It appears that people are finding it difficult to make a decision in today’s tense international environment, with the issues of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and China’s maritime advancement.

Regarding Article 9, by gender, 27.9% of men and 15.8% of women responded that it should be revised, while 40.3% of men and 47.8% of women responded that it should be maintained. Meanwhile, 30.6% of men and 33.3% of women responded, “I can’t say either way.”

The poll was conducted on April 29 and 30 and solicited answers from eligible voters 18 years and older living in Okinawa Prefecture. It was conducted using random digit dialing (RDD), a method by which phone numbers are randomly generated by a computer and called. Phone calls were made to 1,141 households having at least one eligible voter, and responses were received from 525.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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