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Japanese prime minister calls for 'bold review' of postwar pacifism

Japanese prime minister calls for 'bold review' of postwar pacifism

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's pacifist constitution on Thursday, calling for a "bold review" of the country's postwar pacifism and a revival of national pride.
His remarks came as two newspaper polls showed that a majority of Japanese support amending the constitution, showing increasing support for changes to the current document, which Abe has repeatedly called outdated.
Overhauling the constitution, written by U.S. occupation forces after World War II to stamp out Japanese militarism, has been a key goal for the nationalistic Abe, who wants to expand the military's role in the world and bolster patriotism at home.
"We face the need to review the Constitution," Abe said in a statement issued Thursday to mark the top law's 60th anniversary.
"A bold review of Japan's postwar stance and an in-depth discussion of the constitution for a 'new Japan' is necessary ... to open up a new era," he said. "While keeping in my heart the constitution's fundamental principles, I am also determined to work ... toward a Japan that instills confidence and pride among its children."
The 1947 constitution, which bans military force in settling international disputes and prohibits maintaining a military for warfare, has never been altered.
But in a drive that began under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the government has been pushing for constitutional changes that would remove some restrictions on Japan's military, including clearly recognizing the country's right to have a standing army.
Public support for constitutional change has on the rise.
In separate poll results published Thursday, the Mainichi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun newspapers both said 51 percent of those surveyed were in favor of changing the constitution.
The Mainichi said 19 percent opposed a change, while the Nikkei said 35 percent were against it. It was the first time those supporting a change topped 50 percent, according to the Mainichi.
The mass-circulation Mainichi said it polled 1,085 randomly selected eligible voters by telephone on April 28-29, while the business daily Nikkei said it polled 865 voters on April 27-29. Neither gave a margin of error.
Japan has already stretched the constitution's limits, with the government interpreting its pacifist clauses to mean the country can have armed troops to protect itself, allowing the existence of its 240,000-strong Self-Defense Forces.
Tokyo sent a landmark mission to Iraq in 2004-06, and Japanese tankers refuel coalition warships in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.
Abe, a nationalist who is strengthening military cooperation with the United States and requiring schools to teach patriotism, has campaigned to further loosen the constitution's limits on military action.
Last year, Japan upgraded its Defense Agency to a full ministry. Abe has also talked of reviewing a self-imposed ban on defending an ally under attack, which he said was preventing Tokyo from playing a greater security role overseas and forging an equal partnership with the U.S.


Updated : 2021-08-04 17:49 GMT+08:00