SEOUL, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Japan wants to escalate military tension with South Korea to create an excuse to revise its anti-war constitution to strengthen its military power, analysts said.
Diplomatic tensions between two neighboring countries have heightened in a series of incidents involving Japanese patrol planes and South Korean warships since last month.
Professor Hosaka Yuji of Sejong University said Japan wants to use the tension as leverage to win domestic support to amend its pacifist constitution that bans the country from maintaining armed forces, in an interview with CBS Radio Thursday.
Japan's Self-Defense Forces, whose role is strictly limited for self-defense, joined military drills with the U.S. in response to North Korean threats amid North Korea's nuclear and missile tests in 2017.
Abe also said Japan can become a target for North Korean missiles, according to CNN.
Japan has increased its military budget for this year to $47 billion (5.26 trillion yen), the highest ever, according to Mainichi Newspaper. Under the current administration, the Japanese defense budget has increased for seven years in a row.
The Japanese government plans to spend $1.5 billion to deploy U.S.-developed land-based Aegis missile defense system in 2023 and $620 million to buy six of the F-35A U.S. stealth fighters, according to the newspaper.
"Japan's right-wing politicians saw favorably of the Cold War tension in the region using China and North Korea," said Yang Ki-ho, a professor at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul, in an interview with Hankyoreh. However, the situation has changed since the threats from North Korea have declined and the U.S. has shifted its focus to denuclearization negotiations with North Korea, according to Yang.
Abe and right-wing groups have been in pursuit of strengthening Japan's military power and the U.S.-Japan alliance against the emergence of China and North Korean threats, according to Hankyoreh.
Japan is also putting pressure the South Korean government to take action on the South Korean court rulings made last fall that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean workers of forced labor during World War II, it said.