Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for Global Times on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to reinterpret Japan’s constitution:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to reinterpret Japan’s constitution to allow Tokyo to exercise collective self-defense has set off alarm bells in China and South Korea, as well as sparked opposition protests in Japan itself. This last point, protests at home, speaks volumes for why fears of a “remilitarized” Japan or Abe’s efforts to “overturn the country’s postwar pacifism,” to use Xinhua’s words, are overwrought.
The problem is that the revisionist rhetoric from Abe and right-wing nationalists in the Liberal Democratic Party undermines Tokyo’s national security agenda and raises legitimate suspicions about its intentions. Thus recently when attending a commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the start of the war with Japan, Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned those “who ignore the iron-clad history.”
This is a self-inflicted wound. It also angers many in the US, and Abe needs to underscore Japan’s apologies if he is serious in proclaiming “Japan is back.” The US has pressured Abe to halt discussion about revisionism, and he has backed off political efforts to recant the Murayama and Kono apologies.