Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a review of the decades-old constitution, which could lead to the military being permitted to fight overseas.
He wants to re-examine Article 9 of Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution, which states no force is to be used to resolve conflicts, except in the case of self-defence.
If the law is amended, Japan will be able to deploy military aid to friendly countries under attack.
“We will continue to maintain the pacifism that the Japanese constitution is advocating,” said Abe.
Despite Japan’s assurances of non-aggression, the foreign ministries in neighbouring South Korea and China have strongly opposed the proposed change in legislation.
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said:
“We call upon Japan to respect the reasonable and deep concerns of the other regional countries, maintain a path of peaceful development, earnestly face up to and deeply reflect upon history, and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability.”
But Abe highlighted the increasingly unstable security environment in the Asia-Pacific region as a reason for re-examining the role of Japan’s military.