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Abe: No time frame on collective defense goal

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he doesn’t have a specific time frame for deciding whether to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on coming to the aid of an ally that is under attack, known as the right of collective self-defense.

“At the moment, I don’t intend to say until when (a conclusion will be reached),” Abe told reporters accompanying him in New York where he will attend the U.N. General Assembly.

If the right is to be exercised, Abe said that protecting Japanese lives and property, as well as national interests, must be considered, and that geography is not the determining factor. This was in response to questions about whether the Self-Defense Forces should be dispatched to countries “half a world away.”

After he took office again in December, Abe reinstated a government panel to discuss whether Japan should exercise the right of collective self-defense, with its final report expected by the end of this year.

On the economic front, Abe said he has “yet to decide on whether to raise the consumption tax at present” but added that “we need to take steps for low-income earners if the tax is raised.”