March 18, 2015 / 12:08 PM / 3 years ago

Japan ruling bloc agrees on new security legislation

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s ruling parties reached broad agreement on Wednesday that paves the way for the most drastic change in the nation’s security policy in six decades and sets the stage to update guidelines for defense cooperation with Washington.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends the Symposium of the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, at the United Nations University in Tokyo, March 16, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet last July adopted a resolution that would drop a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack.

The planned changes will be reflected in new U.S.-Japan defense guidelines that could be unveiled next month at a possible meeting of foreign and defense ministers from the two allies ahead of Abe’s visit to Washington for a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama. The update will be the first since 1997.

The changes will be made through legislation the government is expected to take to parliament as early as May. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its more dovish partner, the Komeito party, have been ironing out differences ahead of the drafting.

“We have confirmed our common views to date concerning the direction toward preparing the legislation,” LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura told reporters, adding he hoped lawmakers from LDP and Komeito could seal the agreement at talks on Friday.

The July resolution allows Japan to exercise the minimum force necessary in case of an attack on a country with close ties to it, provided certain conditions are met.

These conditions range from a threat to Japan’s existence to a clear danger to its people’s right to life and liberty, or the lack of an appropriate alternative.

The draft pact said the new legislation needed to reflect these conditions, with parliamentary approval required to dispatch Japanese forces overseas.

The pact also called for new laws to allow provision of logistics support to foreign armed forces operating on a U.N. resolution, without needing a special law for every mission, as well as to widen Japan’s role in U.N. peace-keeping operations.

Reporting by Linda Sieg, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Nobuhiro Kubo

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