|Tokyo sued over expansion of military power
Tokyo on Friday was slapped a lawsuit over its decision to expand the scope of Japan's military, a divisive shift for the pacifist nation that sparked protests at home and drew sharp criticism from China.
The legal action filed with the Tokyo District Court seeks to block a decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet last week to reinterpret rules which have long banned the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances, AFP reports.
Tokinao Chindo, 75, a former civil servant in western Mie prefecture, said the move violated Japan's war-renouncing constitution, prompting his lawsuit, believed to be the first such action.
"I hope other Japanese people will follow suit and file legal actions nationwide,'' Chindo said.
Following the change, Japanese troops would now be able to come to the aid of allies -- primarily the United States -- if they come under attack from a common enemy, even if Japan is not the object of the attack.
The dramatic shift comes amid soaring regional tensions with China centered on disputed islands in both the South China and East China seas.
Beijing warned against the move, saying it opens the door to militarization of a country that is not sufficiently penitent for its actions in World War II.
However, Australia and the United States, which has long encouraged Japan to take on more of a role in a very lopsided defense treaty, backed the decision.
The Philippines -- which was brutally invaded by Japan in World War II but is now engaged in a bitter territorial dispute with China over parts of the South China Sea -- also supported Tokyo's move.