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Cabinet set to decide on new security policy

Japan is preparing for a major turnaround in its postwar security policy. The Cabinet is set to change the interpretation of the Constitution to enable the country to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, agreed on a final draft of the Cabinet decision when they met on Tuesday morning.

Past governments have long maintained that Japan has the right to collective self-defense. But they have traditionally interpreted the war-renouncing Constitution to mean the country cannot exercise that right.

The draft says the government has concluded that the Constitution should be interpreted to permit the use of force to the minimum extent necessary as measures for self-defense under certain conditions. They include when a foreign country that has a close relationship with Japan comes under armed attack, and when there is a clear danger of Japan's survival being threatened and people's rights being fundamentally overturned.

After the meeting, LDP Vice President Masahiko Koumura told reporters that the ruling coalition produced results in response to a request from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that it study the matter.

Koumura said legislation is needed for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. He said otherwise the Self-Defense Forces cannot move an inch.

New Komeito deputy chief Kazuo Kitagawa said reinterpretation of the Constitution has reached its limit. He said any further changes would require a constitutional amendment.

The Cabinet is expected to formally approve the policy at an extraordinary meeting later in the day.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is then scheduled to hold a news conference to explain the reasons behind the decision.

Jul. 1, 2014 - Updated 04:08 UTC