Japan on Tuesday approved a new defense policy that permits assisting allies, such as in the event of a North Korean missile attack.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a resolution that reinterprets the country’s post-World War II constitution to allow for “collective self-defense,” Reuters reported.
The policy could have direct implications for partner-nation responses to a possible North Korean ballistic missile attack on U.S. military forces. With the ban on collective self-defense lifted, under one scenario Japan could launch its own missile interceptors against a North Korean intermediate-range missile flying towards the U.S. territory of Guam, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The United States and Japan are currently co-developing a next-generation intermediate-range interceptor, the Standard Missile 3 Block 2A, planned for deployment in 2018.
“There is no change in the general principle that we cannot send troops overseas,” Abe said in a televised speech about the new policy.
The United States is understood to support Japan taking on a greater regional security role amid concerns about China’s growing military capabilities and North Korea’s continued intransigence over its nuclear weapons program.