Japan has adopted new development assistance guidelines that for the first time clearly state that the country allows provisions for foreign armed forces, but limited to non-military purposes.

The new guidelines approved Tuesday by the Cabinet say Japan should spend aid money more effectively to serve Japan's national interests, amid limited budgets and efforts to boost Japan's economy.

It says Japan should prioritize aid to Southeast Asia to strengthen cooperation amid China's growing presence in the region.

The change, the first in 12 years, is in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to bolster Japan's international role in diplomacy and national security.

The guidelines say Japan's pacifist aid policy is unchanged, but raised concerns about whether Japan can ensure that the money is not funneled into military use.