Japan eases restrictions on aiding allies under attack; demonstrators in Hong Kong rally for democratic reforms; Chinese military rally behind President after military leader forced from Communist Party; Israel vows retribution after teens' bodies found; French burqa ban upheld; and more

Top of the Agenda

Japan Eases Military Restrictions

The Japanese cabinet on Monday approved a doctrine that will allow Tokyo to aid allies under attack, reinterpreting decades-old pacifist provisions of the constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the move will act as a deterrent that lessens the risk of war amid escalating regional rivalries, but the revision faces widespread opposition from the public, which protested in Tokyo and around Japan (Asahi Shimbun). The doctrine has drawn suspicion from China and South Korea, a U.S. ally that nevertheless views Japan with wariness (Korea Times). Meanwhile, Chinese vessels are taking part for the first time in Rim of the Pacific exercises off Hawaii, while the U.S. and Philippine navies are staging combat exercises near waters contested by China (WSJ).

Analysis

"In seeking to change the nation's basic postwar defense posture, the prime minister has bypassed the process of amending the Constitution through a constitutionally prescribed procedure, which requires majority approval in a public referendum following Diet concurrence by two-thirds or more of the lawmakers in each chamber, and is trying to reinterpret the Constitution with a single decision of his Cabinet. The latest Kyodo News poll shows that 55.4 percent of the people polled oppose Japan's engaging in collective self-defense, and 57.7 percent oppose Abe's bid to achieve that by changing the government's interpretation of the Constitution," write the Japan Times in an editorial.

"Many commentators argue that the United States must enhance deterrence by making clearer and stronger commitments to its allies. But the United States will not solve its problems in East Asia by declaring itself in lockstep with its allies. For guidance, U.S. policymakers should instead look to a previous case that the United States managed successfully: West Berlin during the Cold War," writes Jennifer Lind in Foreign Affairs.

"What does seem clear is that China's traditional emphasis on economic growth is now increasingly accompanied by more nationalistic postures on political and security issues. That, in turn, is leading to an increase in tensions with China's neighbours and with the US. You can call that the 'return of geopolitics,' or you can call it the rise of a 'zero-sum world.' But whatever the terminology, it looks like a dangerous trend that is gathering momentum," writes Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Hong Kong Demonstrators Rally for Democratic Reforms

Tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators took to Hong Kong's streets demanding greater democracy for the semiautonomous Chinese territory (SCMP). The annual march follows an unofficial referendum on making the city's choice of chief executive more democratic—which Beijing denounced as illegal—as well as the release of a white paper in which the central government asserted its authority (NYT).

 

CHINA: The military rallied behind President Xi Jinping's graft crackdown after a top military leader, General Xu Caihou, was forced out of the Communist Party and awaits a court martial (SCMP).

 

This Backgrounder explains how China's Communist Party perceives widespread corruption as a threat to its rule.

ELSEWHERE:

Israel vows retribution after teens' bodies found

French burqa ban upheld

 This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org

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