Japan Ends Ban on Military Self-Defense

TIME

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a major revision to Japan’s pacifist post-war defense policy amid wide public protests Tuesday – but don’t expect to see Japanese troops sweeping across foreign battlefields anytime soon.

Under the new policy, Japan’s powerful but low-profile military would be allowed to defend friends and allies under attack for the first time, even overseas. It’s part of a new interpretation of Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution that Abe has pushed since taking office 18 months ago.

But ending the ban on so-called “collective self-defense” comes amid widespread public opposition. Thousands of protesters ringed Abe’s office during his televised announcement. A middle-aged man in a business suit set himself afire in protest in downtown Tokyo on Sunday – a shocking event in normally docile Japan.

But in many ways, the new policy merely formalizes the linguist sleight-of-hand that has allowed an officially pacifist nation to maintain a military of…

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