The Japan Coast Guard could directly fire a weapon against foreign vessels aiming to land on the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, ruling party members said Thursday, citing government officials.

The government officials told a ruling party panel that they have changed their interpretation of existing laws. China enacted a new law earlier this month that allows its coast guard to use weapons against foreign ships Beijing sees as illegally entering its waters.

Government officials had said earlier Japan's coast guard was only allowed to fire weapons directly at foreign vessels in cases of self-defense and emergency escape.