Osaka mayor seeks ‘peace article’ change

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Osaka mayor seeks ‘peace article’ change

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TOKYO - Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka), the political group to which Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto belongs, yesterday called for a referendum on the Japanese Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 to enable the development of defense capabilities.

“We will amend Article 9 by putting it to a public vote,” the party said yesterday.

The policy proposal suggests the political group will include national defense in its campaign platform for the 2013 general elections.

Article 9 has been the basis of Japan’s so-called “Peace Constitution” that has renounced war and the threat or use of force to settle international disputes. Recent moves by Japan have raised speculations that the country is trying to make an amendment to Article 9 to enhance military power, citing national security as its reason.

The remarks also come one day after Japan’s state-run broadcaster NHK reported that a panel under the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office has released a report encouraging the country to reinterpret its Constitution to allow the right to exercise “collective self-defense.”

Japan’s main opposition Liberal Democratic Party had released a draft for constitutional amendments earlier this year aiming to upgrade Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to National Defense Forces, which would allow a broader legal scope for military activities.

The LDP has also adopted this amendment in its platform for the general election.

Last month, the upper house of Japan’s Diet passed an amendment to the country’s Atomic Energy Basic Law to allow the use of nuclear power for “national security.”

Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been “carefully watching Japan’s moves.”

“As for now, it is undetermined whether or not we will take counter measures to Japan’s move,” said Han Hye-jin, deputy spokeswoman at the ministry.

The Hashimoto group also said it seeks to strengthen ties with democratic countries like Korea and Australia based on its alliance with the United States.

By Lee Eun-joo, Kim Hyun-ki [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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