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Peace-loving public might be Abe's greatest challenge

By Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-06 07:35

Japanese PM aims to revise Constitution before 2020

TOKYO - In a recent televised statement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he hoped to see a revised version of the country's pacifist Constitution take effect from 2020.

It would mark the first time since the end of Word War II that Japan's pacifist charter will be changed.

Some of the prime minister's recent remarks on revisions to the Constitution were based on the idea that the current charter makes no mention of Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

But while Abe plans to forge ahead with parliamentary debate on the issue and use his ruling bloc's majority to pave the way for the legislation to be passed, a peace-loving public might prove to be a monumental stumbling block.

"The Constitution is part of our national identity and since the end of the war Japan has been a peaceful country and has consistently spread this message to the world," said Arisa Nagai, a student at Chou University's faculty of law.

"The younger generations will inherit whatever fundamental changes occur in Japan and as the country has enjoyed peace for the past seven decades, I don't see the need to change the Constitution."

The 27-year-old added that the majority of her peers and professors felt the same way and would oppose the move.

Opposition parties, civic groups, legal experts, scholars, political watchers and individuals, spanning the length and breadth of the country have resoundingly called for Article 9 of the Constitution to be upheld in recent days.

Article 9 states: "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

"Land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Those words have ensured Japan's forces maintained only a defensive posture, but a reinterpretation by the government saw the forces' operational scope widened to the point that now certain activities that are not wholly defensive in nature may be deemed unconstitutional.

"The browbeating in Parliament to force the (security) legislation into law was one thing, but fundamentally changing the nation's charter for the first time ever, would be a completely different proposition," said Koichi Ishikawa, a researcher at Tokyo's International Christian University.

(China Daily 05/06/2017 page9)

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