China has slammed the move by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to reinterpret the country’s Pacifist Constitution to enable a wider role for the Japanese military overseas, terming the decision “a brutal violation” of the spirit of the post-Second World War Constitution.

Mr. Abe’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a reinterpretation of the post-war imposed Pacifist Constitution that severely limited the use of the Japanese military, even when on overseas peacekeeping missions. The reinterpretation now allows for “collective self-defence” that would permit Japan to come to the aid of its allies overseas.

That the move came amid the most heightened tensions between China and Japan in many years over disputed East China Sea islands and questions over war-time history has prompted analysts in Beijing to see the reinterpretation as being directed at China.

“The new policy raises doubts about Japan’s approach to peaceful development. We urge Japan to sincerely respect the rightful concerns of neighbouring Asian countries, diligently solve any related issues, and not affect China’s rights and the stability of the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

South Korea, which is also embroiled in renewed disputes with Japan over wartime history — the question of Japanese occupation remains a sensitive issue in both China and South Korea — called on Tokyo to be mindful of regional peace and stability.

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to South Korea on a visit seen as rare by Beijing observers as he will not be visiting any other country on his tour.

Their recent disputes with Japan are also likely to figure during the visit, with the recently warming of ties between the two countries coinciding with their spats with Japan.

This week, South Korean President Park Geun-hye hit out at Tokyo for taking a “retrogressive” attitude on the question of wartime atrocities.

Qu Xing, the head of the Foreign Ministry-affiliated China Institute for International Studies, said on Wednesday both countries were “pressing Japan to correctly understand its historical issues and keep on high alert against its right-leaning trail”.

A brutal violation of the spirit of Japan’s Pacifist Constitution, says China