When World War II ended, allied forces made it a condition of surrender for Japan to have a military limited only to self defence.
Seventy years later, Japan says it needs a stronger military and has passed a law that could lead to its forces being deployed abroad.
The issue has sparked protests, debate and even a scuffle in parliament.
Backers of the legislation argue Japan's backyard has become a dangerous place.
There have been missile tests in North Korea as well as Chinese challenges to Japanese sovereignty over remote islands.
But opponents say the conditions are too vague and give future governments too much leeway for interpretation.
On Inside Story, we look at what these new security laws will mean for Japan and its neighbours.
Presenter: Sami Zeidan
Tomohiko Taniguchi - Special Adviser to the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Jia Xiudong - Senior Research Fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.
Source: Al Jazeera