While we are on the subject of World War II and the worst things to have happened since that pivotal 20th Century event, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe defied domestic public opinion on Tuesday when he pushed for and the country’s coalition government approved of a shift in the nation’s defense policy.

For 70 years, Article 9 in Japan’s post-war constitution has prohibited that nation from undertaking offensive military operations or providing for its own collective defense. Abe gutted that pacifism provision, according to The Japan Times, on Tuesday when he signed a provision changing the law to allow Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to provide for their own defense and to come to the aid of allies.

The Cabinet decision, pending related changes to relevant laws, paves the way for the SDF to use force overseas to defend Japan’s allies even if Japan itself is not under attack. In other words, it allows Japan to take part in conflicts abroad, potentially putting SDF members in harm’s way.

“The global situation surrounding Japan is becoming ever more difficult,” Abe told the country in a televised press conference. “Being fully prepared is effective in discouraging any attempt to wage a war on Japan. The cabinet decision today will further lessen the chance of Japan being engaged in war. That is my conviction.”

Japanese relations with its rising neighbor and historic adversary, China, have been worsening in recent weeks since the People’s Republic announced its claim to territory in the South China Sea the Philippines regards as within its economic zone.

Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese naval and air assets have come into close contact on multiple occasions in recent weeks as those nations test each other’s defensive parameters.

In response to Japan’s planned constitutional adaptations, China sent two naval vessels to sail just 12 miles off the coast of the Japanese Senkaku Islands – a chain which China also claims.