Abe tries to counter militant image in U.S.


Speaking Wednesday at an event in New York hosted by the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will be a “proactive contributor to peace” in an interconnected global security environment, and scoffed at being labeled a “right-wing militarist.”

Even as Japan reviews its self-imposed ban on collective self-defense, Abe said defense spending has not increased as much as that of “an immediate neighbor,” apparently referring to China.

“The country has increased its military expenditures, hardly transparent, by more than 10 percent annually for more than 20 years since 1989. And then my government has increased its defense budget only by 0.8 percent,” the prime minister said.

“So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist,” Abe said.

China is ranked third or fourth in the world by total land area and was not required to adopt a pacifist Constitution.

Reviving the domestic economy, which has been reeling from prolonged deflation, is the top priority, Abe said. His “Abenomics” plan, which has lifted share prices and weakened the yen, is designed to change “the inward-looking mindset” of Japanese people so they become bolder risk takers.

In the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly, Abe spelled out the security challenges facing Japan and the greater role Tokyo hopes to play on the global stage.

“Japan should not be the weak link in the regional and global security framework where the United States plays a leading role,” Abe said as he expressed his resolve to make Japan a “proactive contributor to peace.”

Concerned about China’s maritime assertiveness and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, Tokyo has described the security environment as more severe.

Japan’s purchase last September of a major portion of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a Japanese private owner raised the hackles of Beijing. Despite Abe’s statement that “the door is always open for dialogue,” there have been no summit talks with China in the roughly nine months since he took office.

The prime minister offered two examples of how the government’s current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution curbs the right to exercise collective self-defense.

Self-Defense Forces personnel are barred, he said, from helping foreign troops on the same U.N. peacekeeping operation, even if they are under attack, nor can Japan come to the aid of U.S. warships operating around Japan in international waters if they are attacked from the air.

“Is Japan up to its task in this world where threats see no borders?” Abe said.

A panel reinstated by Abe is scheduled to compile and submit its report by year-end on whether Japan should be allowed to engage in collective self-defense. Abe has said, however, he does not have a time frame for making a final decision.

Abe still faces a hurdle at home: New Komeito, the coalition partner of his Liberal Democratic Party, is reluctant to change the interpretation of the Constitution.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    “China is ranked third or fourth in the world by total land area and was not required to adopt a pacifist Constitution.”

    Why should they have been required to adopt a pacifist Constitution???

    With the exception of territories that China claims are parts of sovereign China (India border, Spratleys and Paracel Islands) China has not invaded any other country without invitation from such country’s government (i.e. North Korea in the Korean war) since 1788 (the last time China invaded a sovereign state – Nepal).

    Japan on the other hand….!

    • Christopher-trier

      Vietnam 1979.

      If invading other countries and making a mess of things obliges a country adopt a pacifist constitution than the USA, UK and France should forever renounce having a military.

      • Justice1215

        Having an army and militarism is not the same. A national army is to defend its country .If you use army to invade and occupy other country as your colony as done by British,France,
        Spain,Japan and U.S. is unacceptable in 21 century.
        Japan did invade,killing, looting, raping other countries during WW2 and still refuse to admit is also unacceptable to peace loving people.

        Abe you can fool your people BUT you can never fool the world.

        It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honest.
        It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the
        hearts of all sane men: IS THERE NO OTHER WAY THE WORLD MAY LIVE?
        Let us seek throughout the world, a peace that is true and total.
        With the world facing unemployment , poverty rate is increasing even in US and Japan, man made global warming threatening Earth with wave of natural disasters,for god sake,save our resources to help solve problems urgently waiting to be solved.

      • Christopher-trier

        “Unless the life of the nation is in danger, war is murder” — Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

        Japan, by the way, did and does officially acknowledge war crimes — that is not the issue. Abe has expressed remorse for Japan’s war-time aggressions several times this year. What more do you want? What is the issue is that textbooks often white-wash Japan’s war record, much the same way that the USA rarely acknowledges the true brutality of its expansion and foreign policy seeking to portray itself in a better light than is deserved. The problem, then, is with individual Japanese officials and particular prefectural educaiton authorities.

        Man-made global warming has been disproved, by the way.

  • Justice1215

    Mr. Abe what you are doing now is making your people suffer in the future.
    Don’t try to fool your people and YOURSELF.
    If you REALLY love your beloved country and your people as you said in UN assembly you will never do like this.
    Put your hand on your heart and answer the question ” Am I really love my country or I just want to show that “I CAN” .
    “I CAN” does not mean that what you do is right and is REALLY good for your country.
    Stop it ,before its too late.