- Apr 17, 2009
There is no doubt that China would immediately protest, given her history of being persecuted by the Japanese at will, whenever Japan so desired.Shinzo Abe sets sights on Japan's pacifist constitution after election win
Prime minister angers China by restating his party's goal of removing provisions that limit military to self-defence role
Shinzo Abe has restate his aim of watering down Japan's pacifist constitution.
Japan's re-elected prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has said he is determined to rewrite the country's pacifist constitution – drawing an immediate sour response from China.
A day after securing another four years in office with Sunday's landslide election victory, Abe signalled he would pursue his long-cherished goal of changing the US-authored constitution.
Abe, a conservative, has made no secret of his desire to remove what he regards as unfair constraints on Japan's military, seven decades after its surrender at the end of a war that saw it occupy neighbours including China and attack countries further afield in the Pacific.
"Revising the constitution has always been an objective since the Liberal Democratic party was launched," Abe told reporters.
"The most important thing is that we need the support of a majority of the people in a referendum. From that standpoint I will work hard to deepen people's understanding and receive wider support from the public."
China's foreign ministry said Japan's Asian neighbours would be "closely watching" Abe's security policy.
"We hope Japan can deeply learn lessons from history "¦ respect legitimate and reasonable security concerns of regional countries and follow the path of peaceful development," said ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
Abe made the economy the focus of his election campaign, rather than any desire to end Japan's era of constitutional pacifism. Amid the lowest turnout since the end of the second world war, his Liberal Democratic party and its junior coalition partner Komeito retained their two-thirds majority in the lower house, enabling them to push legislation through both houses of parliament with ease.
Amending article 9 of the constitution, which prohibits the use of force to settle disputes, would require a two-thirds majority in both houses and a simple majority in a nationwide referendum.
Early on in his term Abe appeared to have stepped back away from outright constitutional revision after polls indicated he would struggle to win public support for it.
Instead he secured cabinet approval to introduce legislation, possibly in the next year, that would reinterpret the constitution to end the postwar ban on collective self-defence. In practice that would allow Japanese forces to fight alongside allies on foreign soil.
Now he appears ready to go a step further. The Asahi Shimbun said pro-reformers in the LDP were hoping to table a constitutional amendment in 2016 to pave the way for a referendum to coincide with upper house elections the same year.
While the subject has divided the public, Abe at least appears to have enough backing among MPs. A poll by Kyodo found that more than 80% of candidates elected on Sunday supported amending the constitution.
Japan's relations with China have deteriorated amid a dispute over sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and attempts by Abe to sanitise the record of Japanese troops in China and other parts of the Asian mainland before and during the war.
Japan could set the tone of its relations with its neighbours next August, when Abe is expected to release a statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific war.
Shinzo Abe sets sights on Japan's pacifist constitution after election win | World news | The Guardian
And the Chinese cannot forget what is called the 'Nanking Massacre'.
On the other hand, while the Japanese have so far preferred to have the advantages of a pacifist Constitution, Chinese belligerence and hegemonic pursuit in the South China Sea has rattled the Japanese, that the 'Peaceful Rise' was a hoax to refit and be resurgent in the neighbourhood and looking beyond.
Hence, Japan too is looking for its own security not be jeopardised and so they realise that they have to arm as also be capable of playing a greater role in the security of the neighbourhood and even the world.