Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the 60th anniversary of Japan's pacifist Constitution yesterday, calling for a "bold review" of the country's postwar pacifism and a revival of national pride.
His remarks came as two newspaper polls showed that a majority of Japanese support amending the Constitution, showing growing support for changes to the current document, which Abe has repeatedly called outdated.
Overhauling the Constitution, written by US occupation forces after World War II to stamp out Japanese militarism, has been a key goal for the nationalistic Abe, who wants to expand the military's role in the world and bolster patriotism at home.
"We face the need to review the Constitution," Abe said in a statement issued yesterday to mark the Constitution's 60th anniversary.
"A bold review of Japan's postwar stance and an in-depth discussion of the Constitution for a `new Japan' is necessary ... to open up a new era," he said. "While keeping in my heart the Constitution's fundamental principles, I am also determined to work ... toward a Japan that instills confidence and pride among its children."
The 1947 Constitution, which bans military force in settling international disputes and prohibits maintaining a military for warfare, has never been altered.
But in a drive that began under former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, the government has been pushing for constitutional changes that would remove some restrictions on Japan's military, including clearly recognizing the country's right to have a standing army.
In separate poll results published yesterday, the Mainichi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun newspapers both said 51 percent of those surveyed were in favor of changing the Constitution.
The Mainichi said 19 percent opposed a change, while the Nikkei said 35 percent were against it. It was the first time those supporting a change had topped 50 percent, the Mainichi said.
The Mainichi said it polled 1,085 randomly selected eligible voters by telephone on April 28 to 29, while the Nikkei said it polled 865 voters on April 27 to 29. Neither gave a margin of error.
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