Abe renews pledge to change Japan’s charter to boost troops

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has renewed his pledge to push for a revision to the country’s war-renouncing constitution, in which he wants the military explicitly mentioned.

Speaking before a field of about 4,000 troops, Mr Abe said that a revision is needed to give his troops sense of pride.

“You have gained public trust with your own hands,” Mr Abe told the troops in his address.

“Now it’s time to fulfil our responsibility as politicians to accommodate an environment where all Self-Defensc Force can accomplish their duties with sense of pride.”

Japan Self Defense Forces Day
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviews members of Japan Self-Defence Forces (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Re-elected as head of his ruling party last month and with up to three more years as Japan’s leader, Mr Abe is determined to pursue his long-sought charter amendment.

Many Japanese conservatives see Japan’s US-drafted constitution as a humiliation imposed after their World War II defeat.

When the Self-Defence Force was established in 1954, public opinion was initially divided over its role, but today the force has gained support for its largely non-combat contribution in international peace keeping efforts and disaster relief.

Japan Military
Type 10 tanks of Japan Self-Defence Forces (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Opponents say such a revision is not necessary because the defence force is widely recognised in and outside the country as Japan’s military and its constitutionality is no longer an issue.

Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has continuously expanded the force’s international role by loosening interpretations of Article 9.

In 2015, his government passed a defence law allowing Japanese troops to defend US and other allies in case of foreign attack, a fundamental change from its self-defence only policy.

Two-thirds approval is needed in both houses to propose a revision, which would then be subject to a national referendum.

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