In a rare move, a senior U.S. military officer has questioned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to amend the pacifist Constitution, expressing concern it could adversely affect ties with China and South Korea.
“That’s not helpful to the region, quite frankly,” the officer based in South Korea told reporters there Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
Abe has expressed his eagerness to revise the Constitution, including to upgrade the Self-Defense Forces into a full-blown military that can act more freely outside Japan alongside allies such as the United States.
Abe has also had an expert panel discuss a possible change in the constitutional interpretation of whether Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense.
Asked if a possible revision of war-renouncing Article 9 would be counterproductive to regional stability, the U.S. officer said, “That’s clear that might be perceived as such.”
U.S. Defense Department spokesman George Little meanwhile said in a statement, “The U.S. sees great promise in forging greater trilateral cooperation among the U.S., Japan and South Korea.”
Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told a news conference that Japan may need to discuss a possible revision to the Constitution if countries such as North Korea pose a bigger threat to the region.