The Japanese cabinet on Tuesday approved a reinterpretation of the country pacifist constitution allowing the country to wage war even if it is not under direct attack.
The postwar constitution had so far been read as allowing the country to use force only to dispel an invasion, but now Tokyo is asserting its right to so-called collective self-defense, which allows it to intervene if an ally is in some way under threat.
In a press conference after the meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he believes Japan's constitution does not tell the government to "ignore" its responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens.
Seoul voiced concern, saying that Japan's reinterpretation of its constitution must not have a negative impact on security on the Korean Peninsula.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il told reporters that any Japanese exercise of collective self-defense affecting security and national interests on the Korean Peninsula "cannot be accepted unless we request it or agree to it."