Seven out of ten Japanese would call for early elections to ratify new national defense plan

Archive – Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – Peter Kneffel/dpa

Seven out of ten Japanese would call for early elections for the people to decide whether to accept the new military strategy presented by the government, which includes a tax hike to cover an increase in the defense budget, key to a national strategic plan to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The survey by the official Japanese news agency Kyodo reflects the enormous unpopularity of the plan announced at the end of last year by the cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which also contemplates the possibility of expanding the powers of Japanese forces to launch «counterattacks» in the face of a hypothetical enemy attack, in a further departure from their original defensive character.

Thus, 77.9 percent of those polled would demand, if necessary, that the prime minister use these early elections as a de facto referendum on popular approval of the new defense strategy.

Popular support for the Prime Minister remains at historic lows, although it is up three tenths of a percent from December (33.4 percent vs. 33.1 percent), with disapproval now close to 50 percent (49.9 percent).

According to a draft to which the Japanese public broadcaster NHK had access, the project foresees the collection of an additional tax of between 4 and 4.5 percent on corporate taxes in all sectors and to extend the planned one percent increase on all individual income tax returns beyond the initial deadline of 2037.