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What a person says, even if it is a fragmentary remark, can shed light on his or her innermost thoughts and basic attitudes on important issues. A series of recent remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe serve as a case in point.

During a session of the Upper House Budget Committee in late March, he was asked by a member of Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) about the Self-Defense Forces’ joint exercises with armed forces of other countries. He replied that such drills greatly contribute to “raising the transparency of our armed forces,” instead of “the Self-Defense Forces.” He then quickly dropped the phrase “armed forces” and said that many countries appear to understand that the SDF is well-disciplined. But his use of the term contravened the government’s traditional position that the SDF “is different from armed forces as understood under a common idea,” as he himself stated during his first term as prime minister,

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