Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a news conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman on May 1. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Fifty-eight percent of voters oppose constitutional revisions under the Abe administration, up from 50 percent in 2017, a reflection of the growing unpopularity of the prime minister, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Support for revisions by the current administration dropped from 38 percent to 30 percent over the same period.

The annual survey on Japan’s supreme law was the sixth conducted by The Asahi Shimbun via mail ahead of Constitution Day on May 3.

On Constitution Day last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed the outline of his plan to revise Article 9, which renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining land, sea and air forces.

Abe said he would retain Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 but add wording to clarify the legal existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

According to the survey, 53 percent of voters oppose this plan for Article 9, exceeding the 39 percent who support the idea.

Abe’s drive to implement the first changes to the postwar Constitution has taken a back seat to scandals that have rocked his administration.

The approval rate for his Cabinet was 36 percent, down from 55 percent in the 2017 survey, while the disapproval rate jumped to 56 percent from 35 percent.

In the monthly public opinion polls conducted by The Asahi Shimbun via telephone, the approval rate was 31 percent in both March and April.

According to the latest annual survey, 54 percent of supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are in favor of constitutional revisions under the Abe administration, while 35 percent are opposed.

The ratios were 40 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed among supporters of junior coalition partner Komeito.

Only 20 percent of respondents who do not support any particular political party are in favor of the constitutional revisions by the Abe administration, while 67 percent are opposed, the survey showed.

In his long push to amend Article 9, Abe has said, “It is extremely irresponsible to ask SDF members to risk their lives to protect the nation in an emergency when the SDF is deemed illegal.”

Fifty-five percent of the survey respondents said, “I cannot accept (that reason),” while 37 percent answered, “I can accept it.”

The survey figures also indicate that many oppose the revisions because of the Abe administration, not the changes themselves.

To the annual question on whether revisions are needed, 49 percent said, “It is not necessary to change the Constitution,” almost unchanged from 50 percent in the 2017 survey.

On the other hand, 44 percent, up from 41 percent, replied, “It is necessary to change it.”

For the fifth consecutive year, the ratio of those who saw no need to change the Constitution exceeded the percentage of those who believe revisions are necessary.

As for Article 9, 63 percent, unchanged from last year, said, “It is better not to change it.” Only 32 percent replied, “It is better to change it,” although the figure was up from 29 percent.

The Asahi Shimbun mailed questionnaires to 3,000 randomly chosen eligible voters throughout the country on March 14, of whom 1,949, or 65 percent, gave valid responses by April 25.