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The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is playing with fire in declaring that Japan may give non-lethal assistance to foreign military forces as part of its revised program of official development aid. The controversial announcement has dominated the headlines in discussions of the new charter. But the whole document deserves closer public scrutiny: lots of questions should be asked, and then the document should be sent back for major revisions in the light of the answers to the critical questions.

The fear must be that the new policy on official development assistance is a small building block in Abe’s plan to make Japan a “normal” nation — whatever that means — without the bother of having to ask the Japanese people first.

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