Japan took a historic step away from its post-war pacifism by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since 1945. This is seen as a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The change, the most dramatic shift in policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces 60 years ago, will widen Japan's military options by ending the ban on exercising "collective self-defence", or aiding a friendly country under attack.
The change will also relax restrictions on Japan's participation in UN peacekeeping operations, currently restricted to non-combat roles.
Many see this move is certain to anger China, with which Japan is embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of the Senkaku / Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.
The United States, however, has been urging Japan to play a more active role in its bilateral security arrangements.
But what is really behind this decision? And what does it mean for an already volatile region?
Presenter: Mike Hanna
Andrew Leung, independent political analyst specialising in China's foreign policy.
Barry Pavel, director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
Tomohiko Taniguchi, professor at Keio University and is a special advisor to the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.