But imagine now that civilian workers there, powerless to defend themselves, came under sudden attack by armed elements. Under the approach that Japanese governments have taken up to now, the JSDF would be unable to rescue the civilians. Is this really an appropriate response?
My government is thinking hard about this dilemma, and close consultation is underway within the ruling coalition. It is precisely because Japan depends so heavily on the international community for the stability of its external environment that we wish to work even more proactively for world peace.
Many generations of Japanese have walked a single path – that of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law – and we will continue to walk this path for generations to come. But, as we revitalize Japan's economy, we need "new" Japanese who shoulder global responsibilities commensurate with their country's size and economic resources.
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These new Japanese will lose none of their good qualities. They will still loathe poverty, embrace universal values, and find joy in hard work. If anything has changed, it is that women are much more visible among these new Japanese. For example, all three of the Japanese judges and public prosecutors who helped draft Cambodia's civil code were young women.
The new Japanese will actively serve the cause of Asian peace. In August 2011, President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines and Chairman Murad Ebrahim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front met in Narita, Japan. Three months ago, in March, the two sides finally reached a comprehensive peace agreement. When the new Bangsamoro local government assumes power two years from now, Japanese assistance teams will be there from the start.
Japan is already focusing on giving women in the region the skills they need to earn a living. In Mindanao, where Japan built a vocational training center for women, the sounds of gunshots and angry cries have been replaced by the whir of sewing machines.
All of this is nothing other than an expression of Japan's determination to spare no effort for the sake of peace, security, and wider prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. By working with our regional allies and partners, including the United States and ASEAN, we will translate that determination into a rock-solid zone of stability.
Commentary by Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2014