National / Politics

Constitutional change necessary to protect Japanese citizens: Abe

Kyodo

After being unable to save two hostages held by Middle Eastern extremists, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said constitutional change will be needed to protect the lives and assets of Japanese citizens.

Abe has said at times that with the current interpretation of Article 9, which forbids both the use of force to settle international disputes and the maintenance of regular armed forces, it is difficult to protect Japanese citizens in a changing security environment.

“The Liberal Democratic Party has already presented a draft amendment to Article 9, and amending it is to carry out our duty of protecting the lives and assets of Japanese citizens,” Abe told the Upper House Budget Committee on Tuesday.

He made the remarks in response to a suggestion by Masamune Wada of the Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) that Article 9 should be amended to enable the Self-Defense Forces to rescue Japanese being held abroad.

“We should think about what to do with Article 9 as we may face various situations in the future,” Abe said.

The Islamic State militant group recently killed two Japanese men after holding them hostage, igniting debate over Japan’s crisis management against terrorists.

Abe has voiced his intention to amend the Constitution while in office, calling it the LDP’s long-held goal since it was founded in 1955.

The war-renouncing Constitution was drafted by the United States during the Occupation after World War II ended in 1945.

Last July, Abe’s Cabinet approved a major overhaul in national security policy, allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense by reinterpreting the Constitution, or defend an ally under armed attack even when Japan itself is not.

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