Japanese lawmakers OK greater overseas role for military – CNN

Tokyo (CNN)Japan’s upper chamber of Parliament early Saturday approved controversial bills allowing the country’s military to engage in overseas combat in limited circumstances — a major shift after seven decades of pacifism.

The 148-90 vote was the final hurdle for the measures, which will go into effect within roughly the next six months. The lower parliamentary chamber passed the bills in July.

The legislation reinterprets Article 9 of the Japan’s pacifist post-World War II constitution, which outlaws war as a means of settling international disputes. The reinterpretation will now allow the Japanese military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to defend its allies in a limited role in conflicts abroad.

Japanese troops operating overseas had previously been limited to humanitarian roles.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution says, in part, “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

The bills, championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sparked fierce and vocal opposition, with massive demonstrations in Tokyo streets in recent months and physical altercations in parliament this week.

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