Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

Voters opposed to revising the Constitution once again outnumbered proponents of amendments, but the gap has narrowed, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed on May 2.

According to the survey, 50 percent of Japanese voters think revising the postwar Constitution is unnecessary, compared with 41 percent who feel that changes are needed.

A vast majority of all respondents feel the existence of the current Constitution has been good for Japan.

The Asahi Shimbun mailed questionnaires to 3,000 randomly selected eligible voters throughout the country from mid-March to late April, ahead of Constitution Day on May 3. Of them, 2,020, or 67 percent, gave valid responses.

The survey for the first time covered voters aged 18 or 19, meaning a simple comparison with the results of previous surveys is impossible.

Still, for four consecutive years since 2014, the ratio of those against revisions has exceeded the figure for those in favor.

In the last year’s survey, 55 percent said changing the Constitution was unnecessary while 37 percent replied that it was necessary.

The gap has not only narrowed in that regard, but it also shrank concerning war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

In the latest survey, 63 percent were against changing the pacifist article, down from 68 percent last year, compared with 29 percent in favor of a revision, up from 27 percent.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long pushed for revising the postwar Constitution, which went into force 70 years ago on May 3, 1947.

Half of the respondents said they oppose any revision under the Abe administration, while 38 percent said that they would support it. The corresponding figures in the last year’s survey were 58 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

The survey asked voters, “Do you think the existence of the current Constitution has been good for Japan?”

About 90 percent of respondents replied in the positive, irrespective of their age or whether they support or oppose changes.

In addition, 66 percent, down slightly from 67 percent last year, replied that they think that it is a “good” Constitution, compared with 21 percent who do not think so, down from 23 percent.

Among those who oppose revising the Constitution, 89 percent said they think the current Constitution is a good one.

Forty-seven percent of supporters of constitutional revision said the current Constitution is good, while 42 percent said they don’t think so.

The 47-percent figure reflects a separation in thinking about the Constitution’s postwar role and its current and future roles.

Opponents of revisions were asked to pick items, including multiple choices, that they regard as the most important fields of the Constitution.

Eighty-two percent selected “pacifism,” while 61 percent picked “the people’s rights and duties.”

Among proponents of revising the Constitution, 37 percent chose “structure of the Diet” as the item that most needs to be changed, followed by articles related to the “emperor” at 36 percent, and “pacifism” and “structure of the Cabinet” at 28 percent each.