– Abe calls for deeper discussions on revising Japanese Constitution (Japan Times, Jan 1, 2014):
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that now is the time for the Japanese people to take a major step toward creating a new nation, and that debates on revising the pacifist Constitution, enhancing security policies and reforming the education system are on the list of key objectives for his administration.
In a New Year’s message, Abe said he thinks it necessary to deepen discussions on revising the Constitution to deal with changing times, as nearly seven decades have passed since it was adopted.
In recent years, the focus of discussions on changing the Constitution has been the war-renouncing Article 9.
The article states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
The prime minister touched on the launch of a U.S.-style National Security Council in December to speed up policy decisions on diplomacy and national security issues, saying the new system will play an active role in helping achieve global peace and stability.
Abe said Japan is required to follow “active pacifism” in the 21st century.
He said his administration will defend Japan’s territory, territorial waters and airspace with a firm resolve amid increasing Chinese assertiveness at sea and in the air, such as China’s declaration of a new air defense identification zone over the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands coveted by Beijing.
On the economy, Abe said his administration is halfway to beating deflation.
Turning to education reform, he vowed to develop human resources with high academic achievement.
On restoration work following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster, Abe said the government will make steady efforts to decommission the reactors and tackle the pesky leaks of contaminated water.