World

Japan's lower house of parliament OKs expanded military role in a vote boycotted by opposition

  • South Korean protesters stage a rally to protest against Japanese parliament’s possible approval of the controversial security legislation in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 16, 2015.  A Japanese parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens. Then letters at banners read "No! Japan's Collective Self-defense." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    South Korean protesters stage a rally to protest against Japanese parliament’s possible approval of the controversial security legislation in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 16, 2015. A Japanese parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens. Then letters at banners read "No! Japan's Collective Self-defense." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)  (The Associated Press)

  • South Korean protester stage a rally to protest against Japanese parliament’s possible approval of the controversial security legislation in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 16, 2015.  A Japanese parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens. Then letters at banners read "No! Japan's Collective Self-defense and We denounce Abe's government." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    South Korean protester stage a rally to protest against Japanese parliament’s possible approval of the controversial security legislation in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, July 16, 2015. A Japanese parliamentary committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would expand the role of Japan's military after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the vote in the face of protests from some lawmakers and citizens. Then letters at banners read "No! Japan's Collective Self-defense and We denounce Abe's government." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)  (The Associated Press)

  • Opposition lawmakers walk out after their party leaders made final speeches against the bills that would allow an expanded role for the nation's military during a plenary session at the lower house in Tokyo, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Japan's lower house of parliament on Thursday approved legislation in a vote boycotted by the opposition.  (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

    Opposition lawmakers walk out after their party leaders made final speeches against the bills that would allow an expanded role for the nation's military during a plenary session at the lower house in Tokyo, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Japan's lower house of parliament on Thursday approved legislation in a vote boycotted by the opposition. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)  (The Associated Press)

Japan's lower house of parliament has approved legislation that would allow an expanded role for the nation's military in a vote boycotted by the opposition.

The vote Thursday came one day after Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc forced the bills through a committee despite intensifying protests.

Abe wants to strengthen the military's role to counter China's growing presence in the region and contribute more to international peacekeeping efforts.

The legislation was crafted after his Cabinet last year adopted a new interpretation to Japan's pacifist constitution, which has been in place since the end of World War II.

The legislation now moves to the upper chamber of parliament for further debate and a vote within 60 days.