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Japan is at a historic crossroads in amending its long-held pacifist defense posture, a move that it may never reverse. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet formally reinterpreted the war-renouncing Article 9 on Tuesday, reading the Constitution as permitting at least partial use of the right of collective self-defense.

Administration officials and New Komeito lawmakers defend the decision by saying Japan will only use the right under strict conditions.

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