The Japanese military made a major shift in its policy and has drawn a lot of opposition in doing so. The military made a reinterpretation of the constitution’s Article 9, which permits military force only to resolve conflicts in cases of self-defense. The new policy will now allow the military to defend allies that are under attack. This means if a US ship was under attack, the Japanese would be able to step in and provide aid for it. While the US is probably happy about this shift, the rest of the Asian countries are not as thrilled.
After World War II ended, the Japanese military was very restricted in what they could do. They became a defensive minded force, but over time have helped in United Nations operations.
This shift has several Asian countries including China and South Korea paying close attention to the new expansion that the Japanese military is opening up to. Both China and South Korea (among many others) suffered horrible atrocities during WWII at the hands of the invading Japanese and resentment still lingers to this day (for good reason).
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues to stress this does not mean the Japanese will be going to war with just anyone to stepping into major conflicts around the world, it is only strengthening its position in the area and bolstering what it can do for allies like the United States.
I can see why some in Japan are happy with the shift in policy, especially for US assets in the area. It does allow the military to spread out more, flex its power and defend more assets in the region. With the Chinese and Japanese both claiming islands and North Korea launching missiles into the ocean, there is a lot of tension in the region and having a military capable of responding is needed. But I also see the other countries being wary of the policy shift, especially knowing the past. They don’t like the idea that Japan could claim defense and possibly flex their military muscle. I guess I’ll have to keep reading and see if this shift in policy actually does anything or lead to something down the road.