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PRIME Minister Shinzo Abe defended his cabinet’s “reinterpretation” of Japan’s peaceful, US-imposed post-war constitution today, claiming that it would assist “collective self-defence.”
The rightwinger said that militarist change was needed to protect the lives of Japanese people in an increasingly severe security environment.
He suggested that Japanese warships would be able to help protect US ships that were defending Japan.
“Peace is not something you expect to be given, but it’s something that we must achieve on our own,” he said.
Past victims of Japanese militarism were not convinced by Mr Abe’s claims.
“Beijing opposes Japan’s act of hyping the China threat,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
The new policy “raises doubts about Japan’s approach to peaceful development,” he added.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang Il said: “The South Korean government views it as a significant revision to the defence and security policy under the post-war peace constitution and is paying close attention to it.”
Written under US direction after World War II, the 1947 constitution says that the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation.”
However, Washington has been foremost in pressing for Japanese rearmament ever since the 1950-53 Korean war and its fingerprints are clearly visible on this latest change of policy, in view of US claims about a Chinese military threat.
Over 2,000 people protested outside Mr Abe’s office on Monday, demanding that any change to the constitution be made through referendum rather than simply a cabinet reinterpretation.
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