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Japan and China should be responsible partners in developing the region and realize they basically need each other in the economic field even if they might sometimes be rivals, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on CNN.

Abe described China as an important neighboring powerhouse and said it is important for Japan from the economic and national security perspectives to build normal relations with Beijing.

Abe reiterated his determination to rewrite the Constitution, citing such reasons as that it was written when Japan was occupied by U.S.-led Allied forces and that parts have become outdated 60 years after its promulgation, according to his spokesman, who briefed the Japanese media about the Tuesday interview.

Citing the war-renouncing Article 9 as an example of provisions that are not in line with current times, Abe was quoted as saying it should be revised to enable Japan to fulfill its responsibility as a member of the international community and meet world expectations for its forces to take part in international missions.

Abe, seen as a conservative hawk on security issues, is keen on expanding the activities of the Self-Defense Forces and boosting Japan’s role in its security alliance with the U.S.

Under the article that renounces war as a sovereign right and which stipulates that Japan will never maintain “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential,” SDF deployments have been limited in international security activities to providing logistic support in noncombat areas.

Rebuilding relations with other countries in the region and embarking on more assertive diplomacy, as well as revising the Constitution and expanding Japan’s international roles, are among the priorities of Abe’s policy goals.

He went on a fence-mending trip to China and South Korea in early October, just two weeks into office. He successfully restarted stalled summits with the Chinese and South Korean leaders and gained their consensus to build forward-looking relations with Japan.

Abe, who rose to national popularity in 2002 when as deputy chief Cabinet secretary he took a tough stance on pressing North Korea to return abducted Japanese nationals, criticized past governments for placing priority on engaging North Korea and ignoring the abduction issue. Abe was the point man under his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, who made two historic trips to Pyongyang, first to retrieve what the North claimed were the five surviving abductees, then to get their families.

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