Japan's Prime Minister wants to "reinterpret"
the country's pacifist constitution.
Nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected Thursday to call for long-standing limits on the country's military to be eased to allow it to come to the aid of allies under attack.
Abe's drive to revamp Japanese security policy comes at a time of rising tensions with China and concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. But the prospect of a historic reinterpretation of the country's pacifist constitution has caused unease both within Japan and abroad.
The United States, Tokyo's main ally and the nation that oversaw the adoption of the constitution in 1947, has supported the idea of Japan's military taking on a more assertive role in the world reports CNN.
As things stand, Japan can only use its military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to defend itself.
Article 9 of the constitution, written in the aftermath of Imperial Japan's defeat by the allies, says the Japanese people "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."
If, for example, a U.S. ship came under attack in the Western Pacific, Japan would not be able to offer military help unless it was also threatened.
"The United States welcomes Japan's efforts to play a more proactive role in contributing to global and regional peace and stability, including reexamining the interpretation of its Constitution relating to the rights of collective self-defense," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a visit to Tokyo last month.
However, China, whose rising military spending has been cited by Japanese officials as a reason to adapt, has voiced criticism of the suggested changes.
"Abe's goal, while stripping a nation of its pacifist identity, simultaneously serves to endanger the lives of the nation's citizens as their country remilitarizes and, for all intents and purposes, becomes 'war ready,'" China's official news agency Xinhua said in an analysis article last week.
Some commentators in the West have also expressed concern about the way Abe appears to be going about the policy overhaul.
|Japan's launches their largest warship|
In August, 2013 Japan unveiled the biggest warship since World War II, sparking concerns about the country's military buildup as observers said the vessel is actually an aircraft carrier.
Analysts believed that the upgraded warships in Japan and the Philippines are efforts to gain an upper hand in maritime disputes with China, as well as a catalyst igniting an arms race that would escalate regional tensions.
The Japanese-built carrier has a displacement of around 20,000 tons. It can accommodate 14 helicopters and will play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defend sea passages and Japanese territory, according to Japan's defense ministry.
But it is much larger than many countries' aircraft carriers in terms of displacement and deck length, and it can be easily and swiftly refitted to support F35-B fighters.
The vessel was named Izumo, the same name as the flagship of the Japanese fleet that invaded China in the 1930s. Tokyo likely intentionally chose the date of the vessel's debut — the 68th anniversary of the US dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima — to woo public support for the government's military ambitions by taking advantage of sentiments about the attack.
See more at GB Times.