Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent shockwaves around Asia today when he announced plans to amend the country's pacifist constitution.
He told MPs that he wanted to start by changing article 96, which requires amendments to be backed by two-thirds of both houses of parliament and then a majority Yes vote in a referendum.
By lowering the bar Mr Abe hopes to realise his hawkish Liberal Democratic Party's longstanding ambitions to overhaul the constitution.
Article nine renouncing war and belligerency was imposed by the US after the second world war but has since become part of the fabric of national life.
Mr Abe said before December's election - which he and his more pacific coalition partners won by a landslide - that he would seek to turn Japan's Self-Defence Force into a proper military.
That worries Japan's neighbours, who have endured centuries on the sharp end of the country's imperial ambitions.
In particular, Japan is beating the war drum over control of a disputed island chain in the South China Sea.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying Jeou stepped into the fray, offering to broker a deal for joint development of the islands' resources.
But Taiwan - which also claims the territory - is unlikely to make much headway, as China still considers Taiwan its own territory.
Japanese Defence Minister Onodera Itsunori implied last month that he wants the law changed to allow troops to be sent abroad when Japanese lives are at stake.
It followed the kidnapping of at least 10 Japanese at an Algerian gas plant.
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