NEW YORK - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Friday that Japan’s pacifist Constitution stands out in the world for embodying peace and should be emulated, not revised.
“Japan is the only country that does not want to be involved in wars, aggressive wars,” he said at a news conference after delivering a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.
“If Japan revises its Constitution and allows itself to go to war then I think we are making a very regressive step,” he said. “Instead of promoting peace, Japan will join all the other countries in the world about using war to settle problems.”
Mahathir, who returned to power in May after stepping down from the post in 2003 following a 22-year rule, said he agrees with the ideal of rejecting wars and is considering following the Japan model for his own country.
“We are thinking about following Japan’s current Constitution which does not allow Japan to go to war — we don’t want to go to war either,” he said.
Malaysia has 100,000 troops in its navy, army and air force, whose supreme commander is its king. Revisions to its constitution require a minimum two-thirds approval in both houses of Parliament.
Pacifism has been enshrined in Japan’s Constitution through Article 9. It calls for the complete renunciation of war, but debates about formalizing the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces have been ongoing for the past several years with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe being a part of the push for a change.
Mahathir, in his remarks delivered at the U.N. General Assembly, stressed how the world has changed for the worst since he last took the stage in the hall in 2003 as part of the yearly debate.
“Today the world is in a state of turmoil economically, socially and politically,” he said, identifying worrying new trends regarding trade where “two of the most powerful economies” — the United States and China — are making “the rest of the world feel the pain.”
In the political arena, he pointed to global problems related to the huge influx of migrants around the world, wars that have been spurred on by terrorism, the worsening plight of the Palestinians and the alarming situation in Myanmar where he said Muslim refugees have been forced to flee.