The Japanese public is split on the need to speed up parliamentary debate on amending the Constitution, despite Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's pledge to achieve a revision and security threats posed by China, Russia and North Korea, according to a Kyodo News survey.
The survey, compiled Monday, showed 49 percent of respondents said the Diet needs to accelerate discussion on amendments to the supreme law, including the war-renouncing Article 9, while 48 percent said it does not.
Russia has reportedly said the risk of a nuclear clash was at its highest level in decades following its invasion of Ukraine, and concerns remain North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test soon amid its unprecedented pace of missile tests.
While Kishida has vowed to revise the Constitution before his current term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party expires in September 2024, 71 percent of respondents said momentum toward changing the Constitution is not, or does not appear to be, building among the public.
The survey was conducted ahead of the Constitutional Memorial Day national holiday on Wednesday via mail from March to April. It targeted 3,000 men and women in Japan aged 18 and over.
Some 53 percent said Article 9 should be amended while 45 percent were opposed.
Article 9 renounces war and bans Japan from possessing "war potential" such as military forces. During his tenure, the now deceased former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe maintained the need for clarifying the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces to end arguments that the country's forces are "unconstitutional."
Of the 53 percent in favor, 75 percent cited the changing global security environment including North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, Chinese military expansion and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Among the 45 percent opposed, 47 percent said they are concerned that revision could cause the destruction of Japan's pacifism.
The survey also showed 71 percent said same-sex marriage should be recognized, compared with 26 percent who oppose it.
Some 71 percent said they think discrimination against sexual minorities contravenes Article 14 of the Constitution, which states that "all of the people are equal under the law."
Support for same-sex marriage was highest among younger respondents, with 85 percent of respondents in their 30s or below approving it.
Although Kishida's government has so far avoided introducing same-sex marriage, an issue the prime minister said in February would "change society," 62 percent of supporters of his party also back such unions.
Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations not to recognize same-sex marriage or to provide a national-level partnership system for it.
Among other contentious issues, separate surnames for married partners received approval from 77 percent of respondents. The country's Civil Code requires that married couples share the same surname, with the overwhelming majority choosing the husband's name.
The postwar Constitution, drafted under the U.S.-led Allied occupation of Japan after World War II, has never been revised since it took effect in 1947.