WASHINGTON – U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage reportedly told Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada on Thursday that the war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution is not, in fact, an impediment to bilateral ties.
This apparent U-turn was revealed by Okada at a news conference in Washington, following his meetings the same day with Armitage and other U.S. officials.
He quoted Armitage as saying he realizes the unique nature of Article 9 and does not view it as an obstacle to U.S.-Japan ties, adding that revising the Constitution is up to Japan.
During a July 21 meeting with Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Hidenao Nakagawa, Armitage reportedly said Article 9 was becoming an obstacle to the Japan-U.S. alliance. He also said the Constitution must be revised if Japan is to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
The remark drew strong criticism from both ruling and opposition lawmakers in Japan. Armitage apparently considered this reaction in backtracking on his earlier remarks.
According to Okada, Armitage voiced support for Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the Security Council, stating that constitutional reform and Japan’s efforts to get onto the council as a permanent member are two separate issues.