Shinzo Abe

Japan's Abe to change post-war constitution

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 11:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 2:19pm

Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Thursday that he intends to change the country’s post-second world war 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 the second world war, but its war-renouncing Article Nine is held dear by many Japanese.