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Etsuro Honda, a key economic adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, denied Thursday stressing that one of the main goals of “Abenomics” is for Japan to build up a more powerful military and stand up to China, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga quoted Honda during a daily news conference as denying the report published Tuesday on the financial newspaper’s website.

Suga quoted Honda as saying: “I was surprised to read the article. It’s true I was interviewed, but what I meant to say was erroneously reported. I never made a remark to the effect that a goal of Abenomics was military in nature.”

The WSJ interview story states: “Beyond the imperative to raise wages and improve livelihoods, Mr. Honda says Japan needs a strong economy so that it can build a more powerful military and stand up to China. ‘We feel a serious threat,’ he says.”

Asked by The Japan Times about Honda’s denial, a Dow Jones spokeswoman said by e-mail: ”We stand by our story. Given it contains no errors, we see no reason to correct it and have made no commitment to do so.”

Honda was also quoted by the paper as defending Abe’s contentious visit in December to war-related Yasukuni Shrine: “As long as a top Japanese leader refrains from visiting Yasukuni, Japan’s position in international society is very inferior. We don’t want to see a handicapped Japan, we want to see Japan as a stand-alone country.”

According to Kyodo News, Honda told reporters Thursday that he just argued that “(Japan) needs to (strengthen) basic economic power to maintain the power balance in East Asia,” and he didn’t argue that Japan needs to build up a powerful military to stand up to China.

The WSJ story also described Honda as “an ardent nationalist who gets emotional about his country’s wartime past.”

“Tears well up in Mr. Honda’s eyes during an interview as he talks about the ‘sacrifices’ made by kamikaze pilots during the final stages of World War II,” the story states.

Honda is considered one of the key economic advisors who helped Abe come up with Abenomics, a combination of super-aggressive money-easing measures, more fiscal spending and measures to promote economic growth through various deregulation measures and subsidies.

The Japan Times tried unsuccessfully to reach Honda.

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