Japan has moved a step closer to revising an article in its constitution that would allow it to have an army. The country’s upper parliamentary chamber voted to pave the way for a referendum on constitutional change. Revising Japan’s pacifist charter would need the approval of 50 percent of voters in a referendum. Current polls show that although most people favour some constitutional change, only a third want to revise its pacifist policy.
With neighbouring North Korea now a self-proclaimed nuclear power, Japan’s government wants to loosen restrictions on its military.
The vote in the Senate is a victory for Shinzo Abe, the first Japanese Prime Minister to be born after the constitution was drafted by the US just after World War II. Under its terms, Japan cannot use military force, although this law has been stretched to allow for peacekeeping missions, notably in Iraq.