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Abe Divides Japan With Plan to Change Pacifist Constitution

  • Stakes legacy on revising 70-year-old U.S.-drafted document
  • China and South Korea have expressed unease over proposals
Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Updated on

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden rush to change the pacifist constitution that has defined Japan’s security policy since World War II risks eroding his popularity before an election due by the end of next year.

This month, Abe proposed an amendment to recognize the existence of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces while maintaining Article 9, which renounces the right to war and prohibits land, sea and air forces. He wants the change to take effect by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.