Japan -- which has been pacifist since the end of World War Two -- is now a step closer to acquiring weapons able to strike neighbouring North Korea.
A ruling party committee on Friday (July 31) approved a proposal for the country to acquire capabilities to halt ballistic missile attacks within enemy territory.
Giving long-range munitions to Japan's Self Defence Forces is a controversial issue which could also anger China and Russia -- as they could fall within range of any new strike weapons.
The proposals will be presented to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as early as next week.
Abe has pushed for a more powerful military, arguing Japan needs to respond to a deteriorating security environment in East Asia
-- as North Korea builds missiles and nuclear weapons, China builds a modern, powerful military and Russian forces re-engage in the region.
The proposal document said, quote-
"Our country needs to consider ways to strengthen deterrence, including having the capability to halt ballistic missile attacks within the territory of our adversaries."
Government officials told Reuters that Japan's defense ministry could decide on equipment purchases by the end of the year.