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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday that his mission is to revive the economy reeling from decades of deflation and to enable his country to play a greater role in pursuing an "active pacifism," while trying to counter perceptions abroad that he is veering to the right.
In a speech delivered at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute, the prime minister explained the limitations imposed by the current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, namely a ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, and said Japan is undertaking a review of its defense posture to respond to security threats.
Abe stressed that his priority is to reinvigorate Japan's economy. His policies, dubbed "Abenomics," which have helped send share prices higher and make exporters more competitive by devaluing the yen, are aimed at changing the attitude of Japanese people so they become more risk-taking rather than inward-looking.
Although Abe did not directly name China, Abe drew a comparison between the two countries with regard to their increased defense outlays, noting that spending by "an immediate neighbor" is at least twice the level of Japan and the world's second-largest after the United States.
Japan is concerned about China's maritime assertiveness as well as North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The prime minister, on a visit to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, said Japan will contribute to global peace and security, and he is not what he has been portrayed -- a "right-wing militarist."
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