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Abe hints at revising Constitution in meeting with high-ranking SDF officers

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, is greeted by the honor guard at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo's Chuo Ward on Sept. 3. At left is Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a gathering of high-ranking Self-Defense Forces (SDF) officers on Sept. 3 that politicians have a responsibility to prepare an environment for all SDF members to have "strong pride" -- suggesting anew that he intends to revise the Constitution to specifically mention the forces.

"It is the responsibility of the politicians alive today to prepare an environment in which all members of the SDF can perform their duties with strong pride. I am resolved to properly fulfill that responsibility," Abe told the officers gathered at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo.

The gathering is held annually, and this year there were 180 people in attendance. At the meeting Abe praised the SDF for their role in responding to torrential rain that recently struck western Japan. He then stated, "Looking back on the path of the SDF, the forces have been exposed to heartless criticism and members may feel frustrated by that. As top commander of the SDF and as a politician who has lived in the same age, I am deeply ashamed."

Abe's comments hinted that he is intent on revising Japan's Constitution to specifically mention the SDF, though he made no concrete reference to doing so. War-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution currently states that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

Regarding the National Defense Program Guidelines that will be revised at the end of the year, Abe stated that weight would be placed on space and cybersecurity, among other fields.

"The guidelines will be extremely important, dictating the future," Abe said. "The common sense up until now will no longer apply. I want you to keep your eyes peeled regarding reality and the future," he added.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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