Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mentioned North Korea on Monday as a reason why Japan wants to assert its right to so-called collective self-defense, which would allow it to deploy troops abroad if an ally is in some way under threat.
Speaking before the lower house of the Diet, Abe said his government is "discussing whether it would be acceptable not to resist" North Korean movements of weapons and munitions at a time when Pyongyang is attacking the U.S. or defying international sanctions.
Abe said he cited North Korea as an example to "make it easier to understand." It is the first specific country he has named as a justification for loosening the pacifist principles of Japan's postwar constitution, which prohibits deployment of active fighting troops abroad.
Abe plans to revise the constitution in the second half of this year, arguing that the international community recognizes the right of all countries to collective self-defense.
The move is being eyed with great suspicion by Japan's neighbors.