It took a war of attrition for Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, to win agreement to end a long-standing ban on Japanese troops coming to the aid of allies. But in the end, after months of wrangling, he managed to win the consent of his coalition partner, New Komeito, which had strongly opposed the change. On July 1st the cabinet approved a reinterpretation of the constitution, marking a milestone in Japan's post-war security policy. Article Nine of the 67-year-old document stipulates that Japan forever renounces war as a sovereign right. But Mr Abe's change means that Japan's Self-Defence Forces (SDF) will for the first time be permitted to participate in "collective self-defence"--if certain conditions are met. Once the necessary legislative amendments are passed, Japan will be able to come to the aid of an ally, such as America or Australia--but only if Japan itself is under threat. This week Mr Abe promised that American-led combat missions in far-flung places remained off-limits. Mr Abe had wished to rewrite Article Nine altogether, but that was quickly ruled out.