A new opinion poll shows that a majority of Japanese people are against their government’s plan to expand the country’s military role abroad.
According to the survey, the results of which were released by Kyodo news agency on Sunday, only 39 percent of the respondents expressed support for the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to increase the “collective self-defense rights.”
The Japanese government has long held the view that, under international law, it has the right to collective self-defense, which is the right to use arms in stopping attacks on friendly countries. However, the constitution limits such use of armed power.
Over 55 percent of the respondents to the poll preferred to see the government focus on economic and labor issues rather than change security policies.
The poll also found the approval rating for Abe’s government down 5.1 percentage points to stand at 54.7 percent in May.
Abe has called for a review of the existing legal limits on the Japanese military’s ability to fight overseas. His comments are construed as signaling a potential landmark change in a security policy which has long been constrained by Japan’s pacifist, post-World War II constitution.
Japan’s constitution prohibits the deployment of any armed forces to international wars.
Japan occupied large parts of China and the Korean Peninsula during World War II.