TOKYO —Japan took a historic step away from its postwar pacifism on Tuesday by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since 1945 – a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but a move that has riled China and worries many Japanese voters.
The change, the most dramatic shift in defense policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces exactly 60 years ago, will significantly widen Japan’s military options by ending the ban on exercising “collective self-defense”, or aiding a friendly country under attack.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking to reporters outside the prime minister’s office, said Abe’s cabinet had adopted a resolution adopting the shift, which also relaxes limits on activities in U.N.-led peace-keeping operations and “gray zone” incidents short of full-scale war.
Long constrained by the pacifist post-war constitution, Japan’s armed forces will…
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