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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan Strives To Amend Pacifist Laws

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a victory in his drive to rewrite Japan's pacifist constitution and ease its limits on military actions overseas Monday, when the parliament enacted a law outlining steps for a referendum on revising the postwar charter.

Abe, 52, is Japan's first prime minister born after World War II and has made revising the 1947 constitution a key element in his efforts to boost Japan's role in global security affairs, limited for decades by the constitution's pacifist Article 9.

Drafted by U.S. occupation authorities during one frantic week in February 1947, the constitution has never been altered and procedures for a referendum had not been specified.

Under the referendum law, approved by the parliament's upper house Monday, no vote on revising the constitution would be held for at least three years, but its enactment will increase momentum for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's push to state clearly in the charter Japan's right to maintain a military.

"The law will be implemented three years hence, and until then, it is important to debate broadly and deeply in a calm environment," Abe said to reporters.

Abe has said his party would make constitutional reform a focal point in an election for the upper house in July.

He has also made revising the constitution a core element of his drive to shed a U.S.-imposed "postwar regime."