TOKYO (AP) — Japan has approved relaxing a decades-old ban on military-related exports in a bid to expand joint arms development with allies and equipment sales to Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

The new guidelines endorsed Tuesday by the Cabinet are part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to bolster national security amid China’s military expansion and North Korea’s nuclear threat.

They could make it easier for Japanese defense companies to participate in joint development, give them access to technology and enhance their competitiveness.

Officials say there is no change to Japan’s pacifist principles, but the move could escalate tensions with China and South Korea.


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