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U.S. supports greater Japan role on world stage

Abe has been pushing to alter Japan’s pacifist constitution to broaden the capability of its military

Published: Updated:

The United States would support Japan playing a bigger role in global security, a U.S. official said Friday, amid intense debate in the Asian nation following the murder of two Japanese hostages by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In a question and answer session on Twitter, deputy U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken was asked if he would back Japan altering its pacifist constitution to enable it to act beyond self-defense.

“Decision for #Japan but support increased Japanese engagement on world stage, contributions to global security,” said Blinken who will visit Japan next week during a swing through Asia.

The State Department said Blinken will discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues when he meets Japanese government officials in Tokyo from February 12-14 after earlier stops in South Korea and China.

The visit comes as Japan reels from the murder of two of its hostages, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, by ISIS group.

The two men were killed after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged $200 million in aid for refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq during a tour of the Middle East in January.

The deaths have triggered debate inside Japan about the nation’s diplomatic capability and the question of using the Japanese military to protect citizens overseas.

Abe has been pushing to alter Japan’s pacifist constitution to broaden the capability of its military, which since World War II has been restricted to a self-defense role.