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Japan ruling bloc near agreement on security shift

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's ruling party and its coalition partner are near agreement on a major shift in the country's restrictive defensive policy that would allow the military to help defend other nations.

The planned change is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to allow Japan to play a more assertive role in international security and peacekeeping amid China's growing military presence and rising regional tensions.

On Friday, senior members of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its partner New Komeito were finalizing the wording of a draft security policy submitted by the government. The Cabinet is expected to approve on Tuesday the right to exercise collective self-defense without revising Japan's pacifist constitution _ a step opponents say violates the charter.

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