TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is poised for a historic shift in its defense policy by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a major step away from post-war pacifism and a big political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The change will significantly widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack. It will also relax limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “grey zone” incidents short of full-scale war, according to a draft government proposal made available to reporters.
The change will likely rile an increasingly assertive China, whose ties with Japan have chilled due to a maritime row, mutual mistrust and the legacy of Japan’s past military aggression, but will be welcomed by Tokyo’s ally Washington, which has long urged Japan to become a more equal partner in the alliance.
Abe’s cabinet is expected to adopt as early as Tuesday a resolution revising a long-standing interpretation of the U.S.-drafted constitution to lift the ban after his ruling party finalizes an agreement with its junior partner.
Legal revisions to implement the change must be approved by parliament and restrictions could be imposed in the process.
“If this gets through the Japanese political system it would be the most significant change in Japan’s defense policy since the Self-Defense Forces were established in 1954,” said Alan Dupont, a professor of international security at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
According to the draft cabinet resolution, Japan could exercise force to the minimum degree necessary in cases where a country with which it has close ties is attacked and the following conditions are met: there is a threat to the existence of the Japanese state, a clear danger exists that the Japanese people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could be subverted, and there is no appropriate alternative.
The change will make it easier for Japan to take part in bilateral and multilateral military exercises with countries other than the United States, including Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines that have maritime disputes with China and are welcoming Japan’s expanded security role, GRIPS’ Michishita said.
Full article: Japan set for landmark easing of constitutional limits on military (Yahoo!)