Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's defense policy shift to allow the military to fight abroad for the first time since 1945 could be used by militants as an excuse to attack Japan, a ruling party lawmaker who hopes one day to succeed Abe said Monday.

Laws enacted in September will allow Japanese forces to aid friendly countries, such as the United States, under attack based on the Abe administration's reinterpretation of the Constitution. Such collective self-defense was banned by previous governments as a violation of the postwar charter.

Seiko Noda, a former Cabinet minister and Liberal Democratic Party policy chief, said that for now, Abe's pivot back to focus on the economy had distracted the public from concerns about the security laws, which had sparked huge street protests.