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Abe may use favorable parliament to push for revising pacifist constitution and boosting military capabilities
Japan's Vice-Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki visited China on Monday and Tuesday, which was widely interpreted by Japanese and Western media as a sign of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's willingness to try and sweeten the soured ties with China.
However, the triumph of the hawkish Abe in the upper house election has caused anxiety in East Asia, as he has made it clear he wants to revise the country's pacifist constitution and bolster Japan's military. Many Japanese politicians are expecting him to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on Aug 15, which will deeply offend Japan's neighbors - as Abe well knows.
The decisive victory for the ruling coalition of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party in the upper house election brought an end to the longstanding political mess that has existed since 2006, giving the coalition a majority in the parliament and setting the stage for a stable government in the coming years.
Abe's skillful political maneuverings helped ensure victory for the coalition. For example, in order to canvass support for the LDP in the election, Abe made an "inspection tour" to two small islets close to the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, where he vowed that he would "never make concessions" over the "sovereignty" of the islets. By holding high the banner of so-called patriotism and nationalism, Abe is in the vanguard of the right-turning momentum in Japanese society, which was further endorsed by voters in the election. Strong public support lays a good foundation for the Abe administration to continue to pursue its militarist national strategy.
The Japanese public's main concern is the country's economic recovery, followed by protecting Japan's "territorial sovereignty" and maritime rights and interests, and then achieving the "Japanese dream" of making Japan a "normal country". Among them, economic recovery is the fundamental factor which will determine the stability and longevity of the Abe cabinet. To maintain Japan's "territorial sovereignty" and "maritime rights and interests" is regarded not only as a way to achieve Japan's "ocean state" strategy, but also a way to build Japan into a military and political power. To become a "normal country" is the goal that leads the direction of Abe's ruling.
In Abe's opinion, the key factors necessary to become a normal country are getting rid of the pacifist constitution adopted after Japan's defeat in World War II, denying Japan's history of aggression, establishing a standing army, resuming the right to collective self-defense and even becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.