Japan’s Cabinet has agreed on a proposal to end a ban on its military fighting abroad, a major shift away from the country’s postwar pacifism and a move that is riling China.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera confirmed the proposed change on Tuesday, in what is seen as a political victory for conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The change would significantly widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense,” or aiding a friendly country under attack.
It would also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations and gray-zone incidents short of full-scale war.
The proposal changes not the wording of Japan’s postwar, U.S.-drafted charter but how those words are interpreted.
Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which has not been revised since it was adopted after Japan’s 1945 defeat, allows only for a self-defense force.
In Tokyo on Tuesday, people gathered in front of Abe’s official residence to protest the plan to expand its military’s role abroad.
I for one see this as a good thing. I have worked for 2 Japanese corporations in the United States, lived in Japan for 2 years and have had many Japaneses friends. The Japan today is not the Japan before and during WWII. The fact that the Japanese now appear to willing to take on more responsibility for the defense of Japan and the region is a good thing
There was a time when a move like this would have raised fears of a reasertive Japan among many nations in Asia. Today, though, the nation raising concerns in that part of the world is China, which continues to make territorial claims against islands and areas of the sea controlled by Japan, South Korea, and The Philippines. Given that, the idea of a Japan that is more willing and able to take part in collective self defense efforts in the region will likely be seen as a potential counterbalance against China although, obviously, the bulk of that role is one that will have to be fulfilled by the United States along with allies in South Korea, Australia, and, now, Japan.