[JURIST] The Japanese parliament passed a measure Friday giving Japanese Minister of State for Defense Yoshinori Ohno [official profile] the legal power to shoot down incoming missiles without consulting the prime minister or cabinet. The bill, which passed in the lower house last month, is seen as a response to Japan's growing worry about North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles programs. Japan's post-war pacifist constitution [JURIST report] prevents the use of military force in international conflicts. However, Japan is involved in a joint missile defense program with the US [BBC report] and has recently relaxed its stance on arms, reaching an agreement with the US [AFX report] in March to produce PAC-3 missiles. Aljazeera has more.