The Japanese cabinet on Monday approved a doctrine that will allow Tokyo to aid allies under attack, reinterpreting decades-old pacifist provisions of the constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the move will act as a deterrent that lessens the risk of war amid escalating regional rivalries, but the revision faces widespread opposition from the public, which protested in Tokyo and around Japan (Asahi Shimbun). The doctrine has drawn suspicion from China and South Korea, a U.S. ally that nevertheless views Japan with wariness (Korea Times). Meanwhile, Chinese vessels are taking part for the first time in Rim of the Pacific exercises off Hawaii, while the U.S. and Philippine navies are staging combat exercises near waters contested by China (WSJ).
"In seeking to change the nation's basic postwar defense posture, the prime minister has bypassed the process of amending the Constitution through a constitutionally prescribed procedure, which requires majority approval in a public referendum following Diet concurrence by two-thirds or more of the lawmakers in each chamber, and is trying to reinterpret the Constitution with a single decision of his Cabinet. The latest Kyodo News poll shows that 55.4 percent of the people polled oppose Japan's engaging in collective self-defense, and 57.7 percent oppose Abe's bid to achieve that by changing the government's interpretation of the Constitution," write the Japan Times in an editorial.
"What does seem clear is that China's traditional emphasis on economic growth is now increasingly accompanied by more nationalistic postures on political and security issues. That, in turn, is leading to an increase in tensions with China's neighbours and with the US. You can call that the 'return of geopolitics,' or you can call it the rise of a 'zero-sum world.' But whatever the terminology, it looks like a dangerous trend that is gathering momentum," writes Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times.
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