Shinzo Abe, Japan’s most right-wing Prime Minister in years, is about to take a big step forward toward the policy goal he holds near and dear to his heart. The Guardian:
A government panel will urge Japan to allow its military to help allies that come under attack, in a major reversal of the country’s ban on collective defence under its pacifist constitution….The 14-member panel, headed by former ambassador to the US Shunji Yanai, says the revision is possible if the government alters its current interpretation of the war-renouncing constitution. Formal constitutional change involves high hurdles, though Abe eventually hopes to achieve that….Abe and other supporters of the change believe that restrictions should be removed from the military, and that Japan’s current self-defence-only policy is inadequate as the region’s security environment becomes more challenging. They say US warships may come under attack in or near Japanese waters, or there may be instances in which Japanese troops have to fight for allies during international peacekeeping missions, even when Japan is not attacked directly.
Abe has long hoped to change or reinterpret the famous Article 9 in Japan’s constitution, which reads:
The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.
Considering the security threats in East Asia—an increasingly aggressive China, belligerent North Korea—Abe and many other Japanese leaders have come to the conclusion that Japan needs to rearm and protect itself. Abe also wants to strengthen the country—economically, politically, militarily. In the military realm he has concluded defense agreements with half a dozen new nations like Australia and England, and agreed deals for Japanese military equipment with the Philippines and India and others. Most Japanese citizens support Abe’s efforts: According to a recent poll, 56 percent want to change Article 9.