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May 28, 2017

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Prime Minister Abe's hawkish plan angers neighbors and concerns US

On the first day of the annual regular session of the Japanese parliament, hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly proposed to change the government's constitutional interpretation that now restrains Japanese armed forces from assisting allies in combat overseas.

This is his first public statement about modifying the constitutional interpretation at the parliament since he retook office in 2012, aiming to lift the country's self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense.

Abe said Japan will "play a more proactive role for global peace and stability" with its key ally, the United States, while the existing pacifist Constitution has prohibited Japan — since its defeat in World War II — from waging war.

Engaged in a bitter diplomatic fray with his country's neighbors, Abe said his priority is to revitalize the country's sluggish economy by beating prolonged deflation.

But a military and security buildup may have become Abe's top priority because his economic stimulus package may be in trouble, observers say.

Abe's economic pledges, dubbed Abenomics, "seem more like part of a delaying tactic to seek a window and pave the way for his ultimate goal of revising the pacifist Constitution and stripping the legislative ban on military buildup," said Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The frequent reference to Abenomics and his security concept of 'proactive pacifism' is meant to shore up his public image as a peaceful Abe," Yang said.

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