Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Root of regional instability

By Zhang Yaohua (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-17 07:23

Abe's move to modify the interpretation of Japan's constitution is to lay foundation for its use of military force overseas

Removing the restraints on collective self-defense imposed by Japan's pacifist Constitution through constitutional interpretation has become a top priority for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet, as these restraints are the last "defensive line" of the Japanese pacifist Constitution. If this defensive line is breached, the pacifist Constitution will exist in name only.

To revise the pacifist Constitution and rid Japan of the postwar system have long been the goals pursued by Japan's right-wing forces. Abe has even said that it is the "historic mission" of the Liberal Democratic Party to revise the Constitution, and he has made the task the core objective for his administration.

Shattering the postwar system is closely linked to the issue of Japan's so-called international status. The Japanese right-wing forces claim, first, that the pacifist Constitution was imposed by the United States and the Constitution must be changed as it was not established by Japanese themselves; second, the Constitution imposes restrictions on Japan's military buildup and the use of its forces overseas, preventing Japan from playing a political role in the international arena by virtue of its military forces like other states, so Japan must revise the Constitution so as to become a "normal state"; third, as Japan is forbidden from using force overseas, it cannot become a political power, which does not accord with its economic superpower status. Abe's push for "proactive pacifism" seeks to enable Japan to use military force in dealing with international affairs, and so will remove the restrictions imposed by the current Constitution.

But although the pacifist Constitution has already been seriously eroded, changing its wording still faces huge resistance from the Japanese people. Therefore, Abe is attempting to modify the interpretation of the Constitution to remove the constraints on the right of collective self-defense so as to enable Japan to use force overseas.

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