Japan Prime Minister Kishida on cover of Time magazine

The latest online edition of Time magazine features Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on its cover, with a headline saying he "wants to abandon decades of pacifism" and "make his country a true military power."

The magazine released the cover image of its May 22/29 issue and a feature article on Kishida on its website on Tuesday.

The title of the article says Kishida "is giving a once pacifist Japan a more assertive role on the global stage."

The feature is based on an exclusive interview held at the prime minister's official residence in late April.

The article says, "Buoyed by a White House eager for influential partners to check China's growing clout, Kishida has set about turning the world's No.3 economy back into a global power with a military presence to match."

But it adds that with China being Japan's top trading partner, "It's unclear how Kishida can fund an ambitious domestic agenda while turning the screws on America's superpower rival."

It also says some believe boosting Japan's defense capabilities goes against Kishida's long-standing pledges to work toward a nuclear-free world.

Time included Kishida in its list of the 100 most influential people of 2023 released last month.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu referred to the Time cover and article in a news conference on Thursday.

Matsuno refrained from commenting about the title of the article. But he said Kishida had explained the government's stance on the harsh and complex security environment that Japan faces, along with its views on a wide range of issues, such as strengthening Japan's defense capabilities and economic policies.

Matsuno said, on the whole, he believes that such an explanation is reflected in the article as its conclusion implies that Kishida is a leader tasked with a historical role of fighting global divisions.