Manila supports Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s move to amend his country’s post-second world war constitution. President Benigno Aquino told the South China Morning Post in a wide-ranging exclusive interview that he backed the change insofar as it would allow Japanese troops to come to the aid of other nations during peacekeeping missions. “For instance, the Japanese tell us – they use this example – if our ships are part of an allied convoy and one of the ships in that convoy is attacked, normally if you’re allies you come to the assistance of the other member of the convoy. Their constitution prevents them from coming to the aid of the other entity unless they are actually being attacked themselves,” Aquino said. “That was very significant to us because at some point in the Golan Heights we were all part of the peacekeeping force. And you would hope that the other peacekeepers would come to your assistance, especially with the developments in Syria. But it turns out their constitution prevents them from doing so. “So we echo the call, since they are part of the global peacekeeping force, we would want them to exercise all of the rights of every other participant in this peacekeeping effort, that they are entitled to protect their own interests.” But he added that any amendment should be “specifically for self-defence”. Due to this constitutional limitation, Manila cannot obtain any military hardware from its strategic ally Japan. But it has used soft loans from Japan to buy 10 coastguard vessels. Abe has been pushing for Japan to make a constitutional change so it could use force to settle international disputes and have regular armed forces. Last year, his cabinet revised its national security policy to allow Japan the right to exercise collective self-defence, including coming to the aid of an ally, under limited circumstances.