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Monday, June 30, 2014, 11:29
Half Japanese voters oppose Abe's security shift
By Reuters

 Half Japanese voters oppose Abe's security shift
Investigators and firefighters work at the scene where a man set himself on fire apparently to protest against Japan's proposed change in its pacifist policy, on a pedestrian walkway at Tokyo's busy Shinjuku railway station, on June 29, 2014. (Photo / AP)

TOKYO - Half of Japanese voters oppose dropping a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a survey showed on Monday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe readied a landmark shift in security policy that would ease the constraints of the pacifist constitution on the armed forces.

A man set himself on fire at a busy Tokyo intersection on Sunday in an apparent protest against the policy change, police and witnesses said, a rare form of protest in Japan.

The change will significantly widen Japan's military options by ending the ban on exercising "collective self-defence" or aiding a friendly country under attack. It will also relax limits on activities in UN-led peacekeeping operations and "grey zone" incidents short of full-scale war, according to a draft government proposal made available to reporters last week.

Abe's cabinet is expected to adopt as early as Tuesday a resolution revising a long-standing interpretation of the US-drafted constitution to lift the ban, after his ruling party finalises an agreement with its junior partner.

Fifty percent of Japanese voters oppose dropping the ban compared to 34 percent who support the change, a survey by the Nikkei business daily showed. The rest were undecided.

Fifty-four percent of respondents to the June 27-29 survey were against making the change by reinterpreting the pacifist charter rather than going through politically more difficult formal amendment procedures, the Nikkei said.

Since its defeat in 1945, Japan's military has not engaged in combat.

 
 
 
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