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Japan's hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Thursday that he intends to change the country's post-World War II constitution, lowering the bar for further amendments.
“I will start with amending Article 96 of the constitution, a move that many factions (inside his Liberal Democratic Party) support “ Abe told upper house lawmakers, referring to the clause stipulating amendments require a two-thirds majority in parliament.
In the run-up to his landslide election victory in December, Abe said he wanted to study the possibility of altering the definition of Japan's armed forces contained in the document.
The country's well-funded and well-equipped military is referred to as the Self-Defence Forces, and barred from taking aggressive action. Its role is limited to defence of the nation.
Abe has said he would like to look into making the SDF into a full-fledged military, a plan that sets alarm bells ringing in Asian countries subject to Japan's sometimes-brutal occupation in the first half of the 20th century.
US occupying forces imposed the constitution in the aftermath of World War II, but its war-renouncing Article Nine is held dear by many Japanese. - Sapa-AFP