Japan’s govt approves larger military role

Japan took a step away on Tuesday from an American-drafted constitution that has long kept its military shackled, approving a plan to allow greater use of a force that was vanquished at the end of World War II. In one of the biggest changes to Japanese security policy since the war, the Cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the constitution on military affairs.

The contentious move will allow the military to help defend other nations in what is known as ‘collective self-defence.’ Previous governments have said that Japan’s war-renouncing constitution limits the use of force to defending Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a televised news conference, said the shift is intended to protect the lives and security of the Japanese people. For example, he said, Japanese warships would be able to help protect US ships that were fighting to defend Japan.

‘This is for the happiness of the Japanese people,’ he said. But not everyone was happy. About 2,000 opponents protested earlier on Tuesday outside Abe’s office, saying that any changes to the constitution should be made through a public referendum, not simply a Cabinet decision to reinterpret it. ‘For 70 years, Japan has kept its peace with its constitution,’ said 67-year-old protester Toshio Ban. ‘What are we to do with that stupid man trying to trample over the precious constitution?’
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