Japan's Cabinet has changed the interpretation of the Constitution to enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense. The decision marks a major turnaround in Japan's postwar security policy.
The Cabinet approved what it calls the "Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan's Survival and Protect its People" at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
Past governments of Japan long maintained that the country had the right to collective self-defense. But they traditionally interpreted the war-renouncing Constitution to mean that the country was not permitted to use the right.
The Cabinet says that until the reinterpretation, the government considered the use of force as permitted only in case of an armed attack against Japan.
But it says that with the security environment surrounding Japan continuously changing, even an armed attack against a foreign country could threaten Japan's survival, depending on the attack's purpose, scale and manner.
The Cabinet says the government has concluded that the Constitution should be interpreted to permit the use of only necessary force for self-defense under certain conditions.
It says these include an armed attack on a foreign country that has close relations with Japan, and what it calls a clear danger of a threat to Japan's survival and fundamental overturning of people's rights.
The document says it is natural to require assurance of civilian control. It says the government will stipulate in draft legislation that prior Diet approval is in principle required to order Japan's Self-Defense Forces to use force.
The decision comes after the governing Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner New Komeito agreed on the draft earlier in the day. The 2 parties have held rounds of talks on the issue.
Jul. 1, 2014 - Updated 08:43 UTC