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Japan PM proposes changes to military clause in constitution

[JURIST] Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party [official website, English version], led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, on Friday proposed changes to the pacifist language of the country's constitution, originally written by US occupation forces in 1947. Article 9 of Japan's constitution [text] requires Japan to renounce the right to wage war or threaten force to settle international disputes. It also forbids Japan from maintaining a military, although Japan has been allowed to maintain a Self-Defense Force [GlobalSecurity profile] of about 240,000 troops. The LDP and top opposition party the Democratic Party of Japan [official website, English version] want to amend Article 9 to clearly establish entitlement to the SDF [JURIST report]. A two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament must approve the changes. If it passes in Parliament, a nationwide referendum would be held for final approval. In July, thousands of protestors voiced disapproval for such a revision [JURIST report]. The move may also further strain relations with Japan's neighbors, especially China and South Korea. Reuters has more.

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