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Japan government panel urges reinterpretation of pacifist constitution

A Japan government panel met last Tuesday and is drafting a report aimed to urge Japan to loosen restrictions on participation in military combat — restriction of military to self-defense — imposed in its constitution since the end of World War II. They expected to finalize the report after April. North Korea reacted by calling the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, an “Asian Hitler” on Wednesday.

The government panel — fourteen members headed by Shunji Yanai, former ambassador to the US — sought ways to reinterpret the constitution on the grounds there was not enough public support for revising, or rewriting, the constitution itself.

Shinzo Abe said he was motivated to help keep international peace — by protecting other nations’ troops, which was beyond the scope currently allowed under the constitution. He interpreted it as a country’s right, commenting, “it’s about whether we can exercise this right that every country has”.

During the Tuesday meeting, Abe also expressed a concern that the country’s national security was not ready for potential regional conflicts: “Japan’s preparation for national security threats in the region is not sufficient. We must cover all the bases to protect the people’s lives and safety in any possible scenario”. Yousuke Isozaki, a security policy adviser to Mr Abe, said a revised military policy would strengthen Japan’s ties with allies, the US in particular.

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