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Japan Lifts Military Ban

via flcikr/Chuck Hagel via flcikr/Chuck Hagel
via flcikr/Chuck Hagel via flcikr/Chuck Hagel

On Tuesday, July 1, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the ban on Japanese troops engaging in combat overseas. Abe claims the ban inhibits the country’s ability to defend itself and its allies. With North Korea’s nuclear program and China’s aggressive territorial claims looming, Abe aims to prepare Japan to defend itself abroad and to back up allies where he sees fit, according to a Time article. This would be the first instance which Japan has exercised collective self-defense since the end of WWII.

This recent military objective conflicts with Japan’s US-authored constitution, but Abe would not have to change the constitution to push his plan. The reinterpretation of Article 9, which prohibits the use of force or threat of force to settle as a means of settling international disputes, is all that is necessary to justify military action.

In a press conference, Abe said that Japan will remain a pacifist state and said that the new policy does not mean troops will be sent into combat zones. He claimed the new perspective on Article 9 would offer more protection for Japanese people. For instance, the Japanese Navy could assist U.S. warships that fight to defend Japan.

In accordance with a cabinet document, Japan would only take action if “a country’s existence is threatened, and there are clear dangers that the people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be overturned” by an armed attack on Japan or “countries with close ties,” according to the Guardian.

Surrounding countries that fell victim to Japan’s military in the 20th century, however, has warned Tokyo against discontinuing their pacifist behavior. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters, “It’s only natural for us to wonder if Japan is going to leave the path of peaceful development that it has long been pursuing.”

According to the Guardian, Seoul foreign ministry spokesman Noh-Kwang-il said, “Our position is that the discussions should be held on the basis of the pacifist constitution, dispelling concerns among neighboring countries stemming from history and into a direction of contributing to peace and stability in the region.”

Abe’s changes in military approach has brought rise to local opposition. Approximately 10,000 expressed their concerns in front of his home on Monday. Similar protests were held Tuesday.



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