Japan’s cabinet has approved draft laws which would trigger a dramatic shift in security policy, allowing the military to fight overseas for the first time since World War II.
The proposals would allow Japan to defend other countries under attack.
The latest move comes after a revision of US-Japan defense guidelines which expanded cooperation between the two countries as they seek to respond to China’s increasingly assertive military posturing in the region.
It could worsen ties with Beijing, already strained by feuds over the wartime past and disputed territory.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry responded to the news saying:
“We have repeated many times before that due to historical reasons, Asian neighbouring countries and the international community pay a high level of attention to any changes in Japan’s security policy. We hope that Japan can learn the lessons of history, uphold the path of peaceful development, do more real positive things and play a bigger constructive role in this Asian region in which we coexist for peace, stability and joint development.”
The bills are expected to pass parliamentary approval given the ruling bloc’s majority, although opinion polls show citizens are confused and divided over the changes.