Article nine of Japan’s constitution, which was made to demilitarize Japan after the atrocities of World War Two, stated, “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.”
The controversial constitutional change will widen Japan’s military options, ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense” on helping allies in a military capacity and aiding friendly countries under attack.
During a televised news conference, Abe said, “There is no change in the general principle that we cannot send troops overseas.”
“Peace is not something you expect to be given, but it’s something that we must achieve on our own,” he said.
According to Prime Minister Abe, the shift in the constitution would allow Japan to defend American Warships passing through Japanese waters.
Regarding ships passing through Japan’s waters, the Japanese military would be allowed use force to stop and search vessels they believe to be carrying weapons to a third country that might attack U.S. warships.
Japan would be capable of shooting down missiles fired towards American soil like the territories of Guam and Hawaii, but at the request of the United States.
Japan will also be able to engage in peace keeping missions, using weapons if necessary to defend civilians, an act that would have been previously prohibited under law.
An estimated 2000 people protested outside of Prime Minister Abe’s office chanting and holding signs that said, “Don’t destroy Article 9”, “We’re against war” and “No more Abe”.
Japan’s charter has never been revised since it was adopted in 1947 after the Second World War, raising some eyebrows, regarding the legitimacy in how the changes were made.
The protestors believe a decision with the magnitude of a constitutional change should have been deserving of a public referendum, instead of by Abe’s cabinet ministers. As well, last Sunday in Toyko, a man lit himself on fire outside of Shinjuku railway station in protest of Japan’s government changing article 9 of the constitution.
“Troubling, the Abe administration is gutting Article 9 without going through the constitutional procedure for revising the nation’s highest law. It should be noted that Abe’s decision was based solely on a set of recommendations by his hand-picked private advisory panel, which had no legal authority,” said a Japan Times editorial.