TOKYO -- Just 31% of the Japanese public supports the government's effort to modify the country's self-defense laws, with 51% disapproving, a recent survey by Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo showed.
The cabinet approved changes last July that allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense under certain circumstances, such as when risks arise that pose a threat to Japan. The country would be allowed, for example, to join in the fighting when close allies such as the U.S. come under attack -- a move not permitted under the traditional interpretation of the constitution.
The government and the ruling coalition seek to present the legislation in May so it can gain passage during the current Diet session.
The public response has been mixed, even among those who support the ruling parties. For instance, among supporters of the Liberal Democratic Party, 50% are for the change, compared with 32% who do not support it. Among Komeito supporters, more are opposed than supportive.
In terms of gender, 45% of men said they favor the change, while only 20% of women back it.
On other changes to security policy, in the case of the Self-Defense Forces offering logistics support to another country and supporting peacekeeping operations abroad, the public turned in a more balanced response, with 43% expressing support and 41% nonsupport.
Among those who support the current cabinet, 60% approved of these changes. The percentage came to just 24% among nonsupporters of the cabinet.
The cabinet's overall approval rating, meanwhile, remained roughly flat from the last survey in February, rising just 1 percentage point to 51%. The disapproval rating fell 1 point to 33%.
The poll was conducted from Friday to Sunday via random-digit dialing. Answers were collected from 1,043 of 1,494 households with eligible voters.