China 'highly vigilant' over Japan's push for active military role

BEIJING, May 15 (Yonhap) -- China remains "highly vigilant" as Japan moves closer to revising its war-renouncing constitution to allow the Japanese military to beef up its rules of engagement and use weapons overseas to defend allies, China's foreign ministry said Thursday.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks shortly after a Japanese government-appointed panel urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to rewrite the U.S.-imposed post-World War II constitution.

A key article of the Japanese constitution renounces war as a sovereign right and limits the role of the Japanese military to self-defense. Abe has pushed to lift the ban on so-called "collective self-defense," citing China's growing military build-up and North Korea's nuclear threat.

"We know that the Japanese leader has taken some unprecedented moves in the field of the military," Hua told reporters during a regular press briefing, when asked about the recommendation by the Japanese panel.

"Due to the negative direction on historical issues that have been arising in Japan, Asian countries, including China, and the international community, have full reason to be highly vigilant over Japan's true intention and its future development," Hua said.

South Korea and China, which both suffered Japanese colonialism, have been wary of Japan's move to boost its military.

Hua said China would "urge Japan to face up to and reflect on history and respect security concerns of countries in the region and play a constructive role in upholding regional peace and stability."

On Wednesday in Seoul, a senior official at South Korea's foreign ministry told reporters that Seoul and Japan share a consensus that Japan's military forces won't move into the territory of the Korean Peninsula unless South Korea requests it.

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