In September, Parliament in the officially pacifist nation passed security bills opening the door for Japanese troops to engage in combat overseas for the first time since the end of World War II.

The legislation was met with strong public resistance at home with tens of thousands taking part in street protests, while also fuelling anger in China and on the Korean peninsula.

Critics have warned that the changes could see Japanese troops dragged into far-flung foreign conflicts similar to the US invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan.
Abe's message came a day after China announced it was building its second aircraft carrier, which will have a displacement of 50,000 tonnes and carry China's indigenous J-15 aircraft along with other planes.

Relations between Japan and China Asia's two biggest economies have often been strained over competing claims of the Senkaku islands, or Diaoyu in Chinese.

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