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The Japanese parliament passed a bill in the early hours of Sept. 19 to liberalize post World War II restrictions on the use of Japan’s military forces around the world, enshrining one of the key policy changes introduced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as law, reported the Associated Press and Voice of America. The changes to 10 laws allow Japan’s military to cooperate more closely with allies around the world in a range of activities. It also permits “collective self defense”— the ability of Japanese forces to defend allies in the event of attack, even if Japan itself is not threatened. The controversial legislative changes were approved after more than a year of debate. In July 2014, Abe announced he would lift the constitutional ban on collective self defense activities and seek to loosen restrictions on the use of the country’s military abroad, citing China’s g​rowing power in the region and the need to build new regional alliances. The Abe proposals have been embraced by US leadership in both the Pentagon and in Congress, and the chairmen and ranking members of both the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees released a joint statement on the legislation’s passage. “The new measures adopted by Japan today will contribute to international peace and security while strengthening the vital alliance between our two countries,” said the senators.