Australia backs Japan's military plans

AUSTRALIA is supporting a push by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow his country to dump the pacifist policy it has held since World War Two, and expand its military capacity.

Under Prime Minister Abe, Japan would now be able to respond if a "close partner" was attacked, or where there was a danger to the Japanese people.

The change has proven bitterly divisive in Japan, with protesters taking to the streets of Tokyo this week.

Overnight, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade released a statement welcoming the change.

According to the statement: "Japan has, for decades, demonstrated a strong commitment to peacekeeping operations and humanitarian and disaster relief, and this decision will enhance these efforts".

"Australia has worked well with Japan in difficult security environments overseas and the decision will support our future efforts to deepen practical defence cooperation with Japan."

Mr Abe is to visit Australia next week.