Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took another step toward his goal of drastically relaxing self-imposed restrictions on the role of the Self-Defense Forces in U.N.-authorized joint military operations on Tuesday, with his government suggesting the ruling coalition scrap the notion of "noncombat zones" to curb SDF activities.

The move, a departure from the traditional limits set by the past governments, could allow the SDF to assume more proactive roles such as providing arms and ammunition to coalition forces.

The war-renouncing Constitution has been interpreted as banning these expanded SDF roles — a concept called "buryoku koshi tono ittaika" (integration with use of force) — or cases in which SDF operations could be seen as being integrated into other countries' combat operations or use of force.