In call with Japanese leader Abe, VP Biden praises Japan's move to ease military restrictions

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WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden is welcoming Japan's 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 Japan's policy will strengthen U.S.-Japanese ties and help Japan contribute more to regional peace and security.

Japan's move has drawn criticism from rival China as Beijing increases its own military posture.

The White House says Biden also praised Japan's 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.

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