Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for what he calls a normalisation of the officially pacifist nation`s military posture. But because he was unable to muster public support to amend the pacifist constitution imposed by the United States after World War II, Abe opted instead to re-interpret it. He wants to loosen restrictions that have bound the SDF to a narrowly defensive role for decades and proposed legislation that would allow the military greater scope to act.
This week Japan and the Philippines flew patrol planes near disputed South China Sea waters.Beijing is reclaiming land to build islands in the South China Sea, with facilities it says will be used for both civilian and military purposes. The sea is a busy shipping lane, where the United States says Beijing has built 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of artificial islands. China claims almost all the South China Sea.
Parts of the sea are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.The two neighbours have exchanged warmer words in the past few days as they marked 50 years of ties.