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Japan PM unveils draft constitutional amendment

[JURIST] Leaders of the Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) [official website] on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to amend the military clause in the country's pacifist constitution in an effort to create armed forces that are assertive on an international level. Speaking to a crowd assembled to honor the party's 50th anniversary, Japanese Prime Minister and LDP leader Junichiro Koizumi [official profile] told party loyalists that changes to the constitution were needed to allow Japan "to take up the challenges of strife and conflict that may face international society over the next 50 years." Japan's current constitution [text] has remained unchanged since it was drafted by Allied Forces in the wake of World War II. The text of the document bars the country from maintaining a military for the purposes of warfare, but Japan has interpreted the constitution to allow it to maintain a 240,000-strong Self-Defense Force (SDF) [GlobalSecurity profile]. The changes, which would clearly establish entitlement to the SDF [JURIST report] were first proposed by Koizumi last month, and require an approval by two-thirds of both houses of parliament and a nationwide referendum. Today, about 500 non-combat Japanese troops are serving alongside the United States in Iraq, and a contingent of ships is giving logistical support to "anti-terror" operations in Afghanistan. AP has more.

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