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Japan Coalition Nearing Agreement on Defending Allies, Suga Says

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s ruling coalition is nearing a deal on reinterpreting the constitution to allow the armed forces to defend allies, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said today.

“I believe we are in the final stage of bridging the gap between the ruling parties,” Suga told reporters. “If we are nearly there, it would be better to pass a cabinet resolution quickly.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its Buddhist coalition partner New Komeito have spent weeks debating allowing collective self-defense as part of Abe’s plan to bolster Japan’s security stance in the face of a territorial dispute with an increasingly assertive China. Ships from both countries constantly tail one another around disputed islands in the East China Sea.

New Komeito Party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi last night told national broadcaster NHK that there was room to approve the defense of an ally in limited cases, in order to defend the rights of the Japanese people.

The idea is opposed by more than 55 percent of Japanese voters, according to a poll carried out by Kyodo News on June 21-22. Demonstrators gathered outside the prime minister’s residence to protest the proposal today and said they planned more demonstrations next week.

The cabinet will pass a resolution allowing Japan to use force to deal with an attack on a country “with whom Japan has a close relationship,” if the attack poses a serious threat to Japan’s existence and there is no other way of protecting its people, according to a draft distributed to reporters.

To contact the reporters on this story: Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net; Maiko Takahashi in Tokyo at mtakahashi61@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Andrew Davis, Tony Jordan

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