Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to do away with the country’s longtime no-war pledge. The pledge has been removed from Japan's Liberal Democratic Party's annual working policy.
Even though the Prime Minister repeated the pledge just a few weeks ago while visiting the Yasukuni Shrine - where 14 Class-A Japanese war criminals are honored along with 2.5m other Japanese war dead - saying, "before the souls of the war dead to firmly uphold the pledge never to wage a war again".
It sounded hollow and fake to many who viewed it as a legitimization of Japan's invasions and colonial rule in Asia.
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou criticized the Japanese leaders' visit to the Yasukuni shrine and likened the move to "rubbing salt into others' wounds."
Not only have the retracted the pledge, but added a phrase saying it will "bolster veneration for the war dead" - referring to continued shrine visits - and clarified that the country's constitution would be amended.
Many fear the changes show that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also the party chief, would push Japan towards animosity with neighboring countries especially China.
Under the terms of its surrender in World War II, Japan was banned from starting a war and the country’s Constitution also forbade the Land of The Rising Sun from resorting to warfare to settle international disputes.
Analysts believe that by removing the pledge, Abe is pushing Japan in a hostile mode with neighboring countries
"The changes in the 2014 position indicate that Japan's rightward inclination is getting increasingly obvious. Removing the pledge of not starting a war is a long-term strategy for Abe," says Gao Hong, a researcher on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Abe has been eyeing a change to the postwar constitution for a long time, and can eventually realize that ambition by writing his intention into the LDP annual working policy," Gao added.
"The changes in the 2014 position indicate that Japan's rightward inclination is getting increasingly obvious. Removing the pledge of not starting a war is a long-term strategy for Abe," said Gao Hong, a researcher on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
It will be interesting to see where and how Japan proceeds from here onwards. Hopefully, it will be without malicious intent.