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By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 15 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government reaffirmed its support Thursday for Japan's efforts to expand the role of its military abroad, especially a controversial push for exercising the right to collective self-defense.
U.S. officials pointed out Japan's interpretation of its Constitution is a matter to be decided by its own people.
As an ally, the U.S. "welcomes and supports" Japan's internal debate over whether Tokyo needs to lift its self-imposed ban on using the right to collective self-defense, according to Marie Harf, the State Department's deputy spokeswoman.
If Japan reinterprets its Constitution to remove the restrictions, it would be able to use military force to defend its allies or countries with a close relationship in case they come under attack.
To that effect, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the launch of a full-scale domestic process on the basis of a study by a panel of experts. The committee recommended that Japan be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
Harf noted Japan has endeavored to create transparency in the process and emphasized it should continue to do so.
"One more point I would note is that they have done outreach to explain their security policies, including by sending officials to foreign capitals, have done this in a transparent manner, and really do appreciate those efforts to be as transparent as possible as they implement what I think I would probably calling their evolving defense policies," she said at a press briefing via conference call.
Japan's neighboring nations such as South Korea and China have voiced concern over the Abe administration's move. They say Japan might be returning to an era of militarism.
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