Japan: On Wednesday Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his intention to expand the government's interpretation of Japan's constitution that strictly limits the scope of any Japanese military operations.
"We are now facing the disadvantages stemming from the nation's inability to exercise the right of collective self-defense," Abe said at a meeting of the House of Councillors Budget Committee.
"If the government adopts a new interpretation of the constitution, that would enable the use of the collective self-defense right," he said, there would be no need to revise the constitution itself.
"It's not that the collective self-defense right should be exercised, but the point is that we should hold the option."
"For the right to be exercised, a relevant legal framework and a political decision are required on top of a change in the constitutional interpretation," he said.
Comment: Chinese and North Korean behavior has spurred new thinking about self-defense in Japan, including the need for collective self-defense. It seems unthinkable that the behavior of two Asian states would be the catalyst for a revival of militarist impulses in Japan within the lifetime of the soldiers who fought World War II in the Pacific. Equally strange is the prospect that a rearmed Japan might work with democratic allies to keep the peace in Asia against an assertive communist China and North Korea. Curious role reversals.
The key point is that Asian states are assuming responsibility for the security of Asia. The success of the Asian democracies is a tribute to the wisdom of US policies. The Asian world is returning to normality. In that normality, the US is a Pacific power, but not an Asian power.
Korea and Taiwan remain the last unfinished business from World War II.
South Korea-North Korea: On 5 February North and South Korean delegates agreed to resume reunions for families separated after the Korean War. The reunions will take place at the Mount Kumgang resort area between 20 and 25 February. About 100 family members from each side are expected to participate.
Under the arrangement, the South Korean family members will travel to and stay at the Mount Kumgang (pron., Geumgang) and Waegeumgang hotels during the five day period. Similar to previous events, an inspection team will make on-site facility checks and an advance party from the South will be granted access to the site five days prior to the scheduled start date.