The Japanese parliament has voted to allow the nation's military to fight overseas for the first time since the end of Second World War 70 years ago.
The president of the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament, Masaaki Yamazaki, said the bills were passed by a 148-90 vote. A vote on the new law was delayed for several hours as the opposition tried to stop the measure coming into force.
The Japanese government has said that changes in the nation's defence policy are vital to meet new military challenges. The governing coalition has a majority in both chambers of the Japanese Diet, meaning that ultimately the opposition camp was powerless to stop the measure becoming law.
After the bills were approved, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "The biggest change in Japan's defence policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954 is vital to meet new challenges such as from a rising China. The legislation is necessary to protect the people's lives and peaceful way of living and is for the purpose of preventing wars. I want to keep explaining the laws tenaciously and courteously."
The US, an ally of the East Asian country, welcomed the changes. China said "Japan should learn lessons from history", while South Korea claimed that the move would contribute to regional peace and stability.
All through last week, thousands of people protested near parliament against the passing of the bill. They held placards stating "Scrap the war bills" and called for Abe's resignation. But Abe has defended the policy shift saying that Japan needs to play a more active role in the alliance (with the US) to strengthen it against threats like the growing military power of China and a nuclear-armed North Korea.