South Korea once again urged neighboring country Japan to maintain its pacifist Constitution and be open in its discussions of security policies that may affect others. The statement comes after a government panel has submitted its report to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recommending the use of collective self-defense and he publicly expressed his desire to reinterpret Article 9 of the Constitution to allow this.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement late last week regarding the matter saying, “Our government reiterates once again that Japan’s discussions on defense and security policies should be held in such a way as to uphold the spirit of its pacifist Constitution and maintain transparency and also in a way to help preserve stability and peace in the region.” One of Abe’s political goals since his return to power was for Japan to lift its self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense. The goal is to be able to come to the aid of allies in times of threat. However, many from Japan and former colonies of the world’s third-biggest economy oppose the idea, in reference to Japan’s militaristic past.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement also highlighted its resistance to the idea by saying, “As for issues affecting the security on the Korean Peninsula and our national interests, not a single issue can be permitted without our request or agreement.” Japan has long defended its reason for reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution in light of China’s growing aggressiveness in claiming sovereignty on disputed territories and nuclear weapons’ threat from North Korea. Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai led the panel that submitted the report to Abe on Thursday. Abe has yet to get the complete approval of the Japanese public and its junior coalition, New Komeito, to agree to the recommendation.