Japan have passed a law that allows its troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II, some 70 years ago.
Despite strong opposition by politicians to block the move, the upper house of the Japanese parliament passed the law on Saturday, which loosens post-World War II constraints that were imposed on Japan.
The legislation, passed by the more powerful lower house in July, sparked sizeable protests and debate about whether the nation should shift away from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.
The motion, backed by Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition, passed following days of heated debate that at times descended into scuffles and shouting matches between parliament members.
Opposition politicians on Thursday pushed and shoved in a failed bid to stop a committee approving the bills.
Abe has faced fierce criticism for his handling of the bills and there are growing signs the campaign has taken a political toll.
Opinion polls show the vast majority of the public is against the changes, and Abe’s once sky-high approval rating is dropping.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in almost daily rallies in a show of public anger on a scale rarely seen in Japan.
On Friday hundreds gathered again outside the parliament in Tokyo.
Opponents argue that the new laws, which would allow the tightly restricted military to fight in defence of allies, violate Japan’s constitution and could see the country dragged into US-led wars.
Abe wants what he calls a normalisation of Japan’s military posture, which has been restricted to narrowly defined self-defence and aid missions by a pacifist constitution imposed by the US after World War II.