Japan’s cabinet has approved a security bill on Thursday allowing for the country’s security forces to fight abroad for first time since World War Two.
The bill will lift geographic restrictions on military operations and allow the Japanese military to defend allies for the first time since World War II. Japan will also have ability to provide logistical support for foreign armies and to join in international peacekeeping operations.
Japan will cooperate not only with the US military but also other Asian countries, as China’s influence rises in the region.
The US and Japan updated their military agreement in late April boosting military cooperation between two country in the region as a necessity.
“With China’s growing assertiveness and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Japan, like a lot of allies, wants to be there for us so we’ll be there for them,” said Michael J. Green, the senior vice president of the Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe had said in a speech to the US Congress in April that the bill would be passed.
After the approval, Abe rejected claims of risk of Japan becoming entangled in wars through its alliance with Washington, saying there is "no room for doubt" that Japan would keep its 70-year-old pledge not to become a bellicose nation.
"Let us no longer close our eyes to the changes of the times and remain at a standstill. Shouldn't we move forward with confidence to hand down a peaceful Japan to our children?" he said.
However, Japan’s voters do not all agree with the changes according to opinion polls. Public broadcaster NHK’s survey shows that 49 percent of the voters didn't understand the need for the changes.