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South Korea’s major newspapers on Tuesday voiced concerns about Japan’s passage of a bill to set referendum procedures for constitutional amendments.

In an editorial titled, “Is Japan’s pacifist Constitution to be dismantled?” the Joongang Ilbo said, “A basis has been created in Japan to amend the Constitution after debate on whether to change the Constitution or not, causing concerns in neighboring countries like South Korea.”

It is “only a matter of time” for Japan to rewrite the Constitution since it went into force 60 years ago in 1947, the editorial said. “How would the situation in Northeast Asia be if Japan emerges as an unfettered military power in several years?”

The Dong-a Ilbo ran an editorial saying Japan has “opened the door for constitutional amendment in 60 years.”

Rather than trying to rewrite the Constitution, Japan should truly reflect on its history if it really wants to become “a normal state in the international arena,” the daily said.

“Japan can never become an advanced country in the 21st century without truly reflecting on its acts during the colonial rule (of the Korean Peninsula), including the issue of ‘comfort women’ (forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army),” the editorial said.

The House of Councilors passed the bill in a plenary session Monday with a majority vote by the ruling coalition. Although the law will not come into force for another three years, the bill’s passage will initiate another step to boost national debate under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to revise the Constitution in a move to depart from what he calls Japan’s “postwar regime.”

The Liberal Democratic Party’s draft of the constitutional revision features removing the second clause of the war-renouncing Article 9.

China urges pacifism

BEIJING (Kyodo) China hopes Japan will continue on a path of peaceful development, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in response to the passage this week of a bill on amending the Constitution.

“Due to historical reasons, Asian neighbors pay great attention to Japanese domestic political developments regarding its pacifist Constitution,” Jiang Yu. “Japanese people have chosen the correct path of peaceful development after the war, and we hope Japan will continue in that direction.”

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