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Japan's ruling parties approve larger military role in major reinterpretation of constitution

  • Japan Military-1.jpg

    Monks protest outside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (The Associated Press)

  • Japan Military-2.jpg

    Police officers remove a steel fence as protesters push them outside the Japanese prime minister's office during a demonstration in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (The Associated Press)

  • Japan Military -3.jpg

    People protest outside the Japanese prime minister's office in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. The banner reads: "Against cabinet decision." (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (The Associated Press)

  • Japan Military-4.jpg

    A man shouts slogans over a public-address system during a protest outside the Japanese prime minister's office in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. The placards from left to right read: "Do not scratch the article 9," "We oppose," and "Security treaty." (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (The Associated Press)

  • Japan Military -5.jpg

    A woman holds a placard and protest with others outside the Japanese prime minister's office in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. The placard reads: "Do not mislead the article 9!"(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) (The Associated Press)

Japan's ruling coalition has given formal approval to reinterpreting the constitution to allow greater use of military force, paving the way for Cabinet endorsement later Tuesday of one of the biggest changes to Japanese security policy since World War II.

The move will allow the military to defend other nations under what is known as "collective self-defense."

Previous governments have said that Japan's war-renouncing constitution limits the use of force to the defense of Japan.

The constitution was drafted by American occupation forces after World War II in part to prevent a repeat of Japan's invasion and brutal occupation of wide swaths of Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing hard for the change. He cites a deteriorating security environment, including China's rise and North Korean missile and nuclear threats.