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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Approves Larger Military Role

Image: JSDF soldiers approach Eniyabanare Island from JSDF transport vessel Shimokita during a military drill, off Setouchi town on the southern Japanese island of Amami Oshima
Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers travelling in a rubber boat on the sea approach Eniyabanare Island from JSDF transport vessel Shimokita during a military drill, off Setouchi town on the southern Japanese island of Amami Oshima, Kagoshima prefecture in this photo taken by Kyodo May 22, 2014. Japanese troops drifted onto the remote, uninhabited islet on Thursday in a drill to simulate the recapture of an island. The exercise comes as Tokyo looks to boost its amphibious defences amid a territorial dispute with China over a handful of islands in the East China Sea. It is the first time Japanese land, sea and air forces have held a joint drill to retake an occupied island. KYODO via Reuters, file

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TOKYO - Japan is set to lift some restrictions on its use of military force, a major change in the pacifist stance encoded in the country’s constitution after World War II. The move will allow Japan to come to the aid of close allies but will not permit its troops to be deployed overseas, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. “This is deterrence to be prepared for any possible event and to defy any nation that may plan to wage war against Japan," he said. "Japan will never become a nation that wages war.”

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Critics fear the change could drag Japan into foreign conflicts. Supporters say the updates are needed so it can fulfill commitment to the international community, in particular the United States. But revent polls suggest the public is still divided on the issue. Laws for actually executing the new policy have not yet been enacted and will be debated when parliament reconvenes in the fall.

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- Arata Yamamoto

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