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December will be a month of reconciliation for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as he meets with leaders from two countries that fought Japan in World War II: the United States and Russia.It might seem promising that Abe is hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin and then being hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama in such short order. But these events actually presage an uncomfortable, potentially destabilizing time for Japan – and all of East Asia.On Dec. 26, Abe will shake hands with Obama at Pearl Harbor – weeks after the U.S. marked the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack there – to reciprocate Obama's visit to Hiroshima's atomic bomb sites last May. But this gesture will come just 10 days after Abe hosted Putin in his Yamaguchi prefecture hometown; and theirs was a rather different sort of reconciliation. This will only be a consolation prize for Abe.Trump's election and escalating regional tensions have created the perfect pretext for Abe to push for his ultimate political goal: to abolish Article 9 – the pacifist clause in Japan's postwar, U.S.-imposed constitution, which limits the Japanese military to a "self-defense force," and has generally kept Japanese defense spending at 1 percent of GDP.
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