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The Abe administration, in a Cabinet decision made on Tuesday — the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Self-Defense Forces — changed the government’s longstanding interpretation of the Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense. The decision not only effectively undermines the Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9 — which has prevented Japan from being involved in international military conflicts in the postwar period — but also violates the principles of rule of law under the Constitution.

The Cabinet decision, pending related changes to relevant laws, paves the way for the SDF to use force overseas to defend Japan’s allies even if Japan itself is not under attack. In other words, it allows Japan to take part in conflicts abroad, potentially putting SDF members in harm’s way.

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