Japan's ruling bloc approves larger military role

MARI YAMAGUCHI
Associated Press
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Monks protest outside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office in anticipation his government will reinterpret the constitution to allow Japan's military a larger international role in Tokyo, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. About two thousand people demonstrated to demand that Abe's Cabinet scrap its plan, intended to allow the Japanese military to help defend other nations. It would be one of the biggest changes in Japan's security policy since World War II. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's ruling coalition has given formal approval to reinterpreting the constitution to allow greater use of military force, paving the way for Cabinet endorsement later Tuesday of one of the biggest changes to Japanese security policy since World War II.

The move will allow the military to defend other nations under what is known as "collective self-defense."

Previous governments have said that Japan's war-renouncing constitution limits the use of force to the defense of Japan.

The constitution was drafted by American occupation forces after World War II in part to prevent a repeat of Japan's invasion and brutal occupation of wide swaths of Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing hard for the change. He cites a deteriorating security environment, including China's rise and North Korean missile and nuclear threats.