Japan on Wednesday unveiled guidelines for a new program to strengthen the militaries of like-minded countries by providing “official security assistance” — a move that breaks with its previous policy of avoiding the use of development aid for military purposes other than disaster relief.

First announced in last December’s revised National Security Strategy (NSS), the new OSA framework will initially provide equipment, supplies and infrastructure development assistance to partner countries in the form of grants, rather than loans, in a bid to reinforce what Tokyo describes as the region’s “comprehensive defense architecture.”

Foreign Ministry officials say the Philippines will be one of the first beneficiaries of OSA, with Malaysia, Bangladesh and Fiji also among those being considered.