BEIJING, July 11 -- When Shinzo Abe gutted Japan's pacifist constitution early this month to allow Japanese forces to fight abroad, Uncle Sam clapped and cheered, without exhibiting any scruples.
On the first look, the United States has good reason to do so. The constitutional reinterpretation Abe's cabinet adopted paves the way for Japan to play a bigger military role in Washington's regional maneuvers and thus in safeguarding the U.S. preponderance in Asia.
Tempting as it is, such a line of thinking is myopic and -- historically speaking -- wishful. As depicted in an old Chinese saying, the world's sole superpower is drinking poison to quench its thirst for global and regional leadership.
For starters, the Abe administration has proved to be a remorseless troublemaker in the region. From the farcical purchase of China's Diaoyu Islands to his outrageous visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, the prime minister has repeatedly infuriated neighboring countries.
And with its increasing bellicosity in territorial disputes and unmistakable connivance at the revival of Japanese militarism, the Abe administration has already added more malign variables to regional security calculations.
Against such a backdrop, the scuttling of Japan's ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense is alarming, not only to its neighbors, which suffered tremendously from Japanese aggressions in the past, but also to the United States, whose interest is best served by a stable Asia rather than by a provocative and opportunistic Tokyo ready to drag it into senseless wars.
The wariness about Abe's constitutional tampering in both domestic and international opinion is justifiable. For the Japanese, Abe is befouling their nation's pacifist soul and leading their country down a dangerous path. For neighboring nations, the trend is reminiscent of the lead-up to the dark days merely seven decades ago.
The historical nightmares of Asian nations might be remote for the United States, but the Pearl Harbor incident should have taught it a good lesson: Extremist right-wing elements in Japan should never be allowed to flare up again from the ashes.
As U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera, in Washington on Friday, it is high time that the United States reconsidered its endorsement for Abe's Faustian flirtation with the specter of war.
In strategic planning, trade-offs between short-term and long-term interests may be inevitable now and then. But on matters of cardinal significance, it is always advisable to think back and think far.