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Japan may not militarize soon, but Abe’s dream lives on

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Throughout his career, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe worked to “normalize” his country’s military, primarily by attempting to broaden the relatively limited role and mission of its Self Defense Forces (SDF) to better protect Japan in an increasingly unstable world.

By the time Abe was murdered last month, he had not achieved all his goals for transforming Japanese security policy, such as removing constitutional constraints on the SDF, a controversial step which is still unlikely to be realized in the near term. The SDF derives its legitimacy from a longstanding interpretation of the constitution from the 1950s—but any talk of a full-fledged “military” is enough to make most Japanese deeply uneasy.

Still, Abe’s vision for Japan’s national-security policy will likely live on in other ways.

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