Japanese prime minister to overturn pacifist defense policy

Abe’s cabinet is expected to adopt a resolution on Tuesday that would end Japan’s long-standing ban on exercising collective self-defence, or coming to the aid of an ally under attack even if Japan itself is not threatened.

Japan’s postwar constitution prohibits the use of force to settle international disputes – a restriction Abe and his supporters say inhibits the country’s ability to protect itself and its allies, despite growing fears over North Korea’s nuclear programme and China’s aggressive territorial claims in the region.

Abe’s decision to introduce legislation that would reinterpret the pacifist clause in the constitution, which has prevented Japanese forces from fighting overseas since the end of the second world war, came after opinion polls indicated he would struggle to win enough support in parliament and among voters for outright constitutional reform.