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Japan cabinet agrees military expansion rules

Hundreds of protesters gather outside the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on May 14, 2015 as the government approves a set of security bills bolstering the role of the militaryJapan’s cabinet on Thursday approved a set of bills bolstering the role and scope of the military, as the pacifist country redefines its position in the increasingly roiled Asia-Pacific region. The bills are a pet project of nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who says Japan can no longer shy away from its responsibility to help safeguard regional stability, and must step out from under the shade of the security umbrella provided by the United States. The draft legislation, which will go before lawmakers in the coming months, formalises a decision made by the cabinet last year to broaden the remit of Japan’s well-equipped and well-trained armed forces. It would allow them to go into battle to protect allies — so-called “collective defence” — something currently banned by a strict reading of Japan’s pacifist constitution.

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