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JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed today to use re-election to push through his militarist amendments to the country’s famous “peace constitution.”
Mr Abe was easily re-elected as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, meaning he is in a position to continue as prime minister for another three years.
“It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” he told party members in his victory speech. “Now the fight is over.”
Mr Abe has fought a dogged battle since becoming PM to add a clause to the constitution watering down its ban on the use of military force to resolve international disputes, which was adopted following the country’s defeat in the second world war. In 2015, he passed legislation reinterpreting relevant clauses to widen the definition of “self-defence” so as to facilitate the deployment of troops abroad.
But peace campaigners rallied in force in Tokyo yesterday to warn they would defend the constitution.
Japanese Communist Party vice-chair Akira Koike told the 5,000-strong crowd: “Let’s defeat the Abe administration!” He said the immediate priority was to prevent the construction of a new US military base at Henoko on Okinawa.
Overturning the peace constitution has been a goal of the Liberal Democratic Party since the 1950s, when it was described as a “humiliation” by Mr Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, prime minister from 1957-60.
Mr Kishi had previously been jailed as a Class A war criminal for his role in governing occupied Manchuria in the 1930s, when the Chinese region was the site for lethal human experimentation by the Japanese military in the infamous Unit 731 chemical and biological warfare project.
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