BEIJING – China urged Japan to follow the track of peaceful development following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decisive election victory, which gives him a stronger hand to achieve his major goal of amending the pacifist Constitution.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that China hopes Japan takes “substantive actions to promote the stable improvement of bilateral relations,” when asked about the results of Sunday’s general election, which could shore up Abe’s position to push for a possible first-ever amendment of the Constitution.
Without giving details, Geng went on to say China hopes Japan “continues to follow the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling coalition and conservative parties in favor of amending the Constitution together secured more than two-thirds of the 465 seats up for grabs in the Lower House.
The victory by the ruling coalition brings Abe one step closer to winning another three-year term next September as head of the LDP, which would keep him in the Prime Minister’s Office until 2021 and make him the longest-serving leader in postwar Japan.
The parties and other forces favoring constitutional revision already have a two-thirds majority in the Upper House.
Any proposal to change the Constitution first requires approval by two-thirds of both Diet chambers.
Abe’s ambitions to include a clause recognizing the legality of the Self-Defense Forces and his hawkish security views have fueled lingering concerns in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Tokyo’s past militarism still run deep.
The Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, warned in an editorial that Abe’s victory has set the stage for a potential constitutional change.
The editorial described the situation using a traditional idiom, “Where water flows, a canal is formed,” but also pointed out that there remains strong public opposition in Japan to Abe’s push for revision.
The tabloid also said it needs to be closely watched whether Abe during his new term will be “committed to substantially improving” Japan-China relations and how Beijing can affect him in that direction.
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