Japan ruling parties agree to plan to drop ban on collective self-defence-lawmaker

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes his case for a controversial move to allow Japan's armed forces to enter battle in defense of allies.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes his case for a controversial move to allow Japan's armed forces to enter battle in defense of allies.

Japan's ruling parties agreed on Tuesday to a government proposal to end a ban that has kept the military from fighting overseas since World War Two, a ruling party lawmaker told reporters, a major step away from post-war pacifism and a political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The change, expected to be adopted in a cabinet resolution later in the day, 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 of a cabinet resolution expected to be adopted later in the day.

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.