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Story highlights

Controversial bills pass, marking most dramatic shift in Japanese military policy in 70 years

There was fierce opposition to bills that reinterpret Article 9 of the Japanese constitution

Change will allow Japanese military to deploy overseas and engage in offensive military action

(CNN) —  

Japan’s upper chamber of parliament early Saturday gave final approval to a set of controversial bills allowing the country’s military to engage in overseas combat assignments – under certain circumstances – for the first time since World War II. The lower chamber approved the bills in July.

The 148-90 vote was the final hurdle for the measures, which will go into effect within roughly the next six months. The lower parliamentary chamber passed the bills in July.

The legislation reinterprets Article 9 of the Japan’s pacifist post-World War II constitution, which outlaws war as a means of settling international disputes. The reinterpretation will now allow the Japanese military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to defend its allies in a limited role in conflicts abroad.

Japanese troops operating overseas had previously been limited to humanitarian roles.

Japan’s neighbors reacted with concern after the country’s upper chamber of parliament approved measures Saturday removing some long-standing limits on overseas combat.

03:20 - Source: CNN
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The bills, championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, sparked fierce and vocal opposition, with massive demonstrations in Tokyo streets in recent months and physical altercations in parliament this week.