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Japan considers expanding rules on arms use in peacekeeping operations

[JURIST] The Japanese government is considering expanding the ability of Japan's Self Defense Forces [official website] to use arms in peacekeeping operations in ways that exceed the scope of self-defense, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Sunday. If the revisions are enacted, Japanese troops will be able to participate in more aggressive international peacekeeping missions, such as ceasefire monitoring. The move would be consistent with the stated intention of new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official profile; BBC profile] to revisit [JURIST report] a key provision of the post-World War II constitution [text] limiting the Japanese military to defensive roles and operations.

Article 9 [text; Wikipedia backgrounder] of the 1946 charter effectively imposed by United States during the post-war occupation of Japan [backgrounder] reads:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
A national referendum is required before the constitution could be amended and Abe promised in December to pass a "National Referendum Bill" and accompanying procedures during the 2007 parliamentary session. Reuters has more.

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