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Japan poised to ease Constitution's limits on military in landmark shift

Published on Jul 1, 2014 6:26 AM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's cabinet is expected on Tuesday to end a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since World War Two, a major shift away from post-war pacifism and a political victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has pursued the change despite some public opposition.

The move, seen by some as the biggest shift in defence policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces in 1954, would end a ban on exercising "collective self-defence", or aiding a friendly country under attack.

It would also relax limits on activities in UN-led peacekeeping operations and "grey zone" incidents that fall short of full-scale war, according to a draft cabinet resolution.

Long constrained by the pacifist post-war constitution, Japan's military would be more closely aligned with other advanced nations' armed forces in terms of its options to act, though the government would likely remain wary of putting boots on the ground in multilateral operations such as the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

A protester wearing a mask holds a placard at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to expand Japan's military role in front of Abe's official residence in Tokyo on July 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
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