A protester holds a picture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a July 14 demonstration against the Japanese government's decision to change the nation's war-renouncing constitution to allow for a greater military role military. (Koji Sasahara / AP)
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden is welcoming Japanís decision to loosen restrictions on its military to allow greater use of force to defend other countries.
Biden spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) on Thursday. The White House says the two agreed that Japanís policy will strengthen U.S.-Japanese ties and help Japan contribute more to regional peace and security.
Japanís move has drawn criticism from rival China as Beijing increases its own military posture.
The White House says Biden also praised Japanís sanctions on Russia. The U.S. and Europe are sanctioning Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Japan is part of the Group of Seven nations seeking to pressure Moscow.
The two leaders also discussed the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran, plus conflicts in Iraq and Syria.