Japan Moves to Permit Greater Use of Its Military - NYTimes.com
Japan took a symbolically significant step toward playing a more active role in regional security on Tuesday, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that his government would reinterpret the antiwar Constitution to allow Japanese armed forces to come to the aid of friendly nations under attack.
The decision by Mr. Abe’s cabinet, which had long been expected, changes a more than six-decade-old reading of the Constitution, which had strictly limited Japan’s forces to acting solely in its own defense. The new interpretation, known as “collective self-defense,” will allow Japan to use its large and technologically advanced military in ways that would have been unthinkable for this long-pacifist nation just a few years ago, such as coming to the aid of an American ship under fire, or shooting down a ballistic missile aimed at the United States.
The new policy cannot go into effect until at least this autumn as Parliament must still clear legal barriers to broader military action by revising more than a dozen existing laws, experts and lawmakers said. However, with Mr. Abe’s governing coalition enjoying a comfortable majority in both houses, the change seems all but certain to become reality.