Japan must overhaul its pacifist constitution, beef up its international security role and free itself of World War II's political remnants, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Parliament in a major policy speech on Friday.
Setting out his administration's objectives for the coming year, Abe put rewriting the constitution, bolstering Japan's security alliance with the United States and implementing classroom reforms that will instill a sense of patriotism in the nation's youth at the top of his agenda.
"Now is the time for us to boldly revise this post-war regime and make a new start," he told Parliament, which opened yesterday for a five-month session.
"It is our mission to create a beautiful Japan that will be able to withstand the challenges of the next 50 or 100 years," he said.
Abe's constitutional revision idea is focused mainly on eliminating a clause in the current document — written by US Occupation authorities just after Japan's 1945 surrender — that strictly limits Japan's military to a defensive role and bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
Abe said his is to free the military to assume a stronger position within the US-Japan security alliance, and to become more of a player in global peacekeeping operations.
He also said there is a need for a stronger deterrent to the threat posed by neighbouring North Korea, which recently sent shock waves through the region with ballistic missile launches and its first test of a nuclear device.