Abe to resume talks in Sept. on Japan's collective self-defense

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will resume talks next month at a government panel to consider lifting Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, after a hiatus due to last month's Diet election, a government source said Friday.

The panel of experts, studying the potential exercise of the right to coming to the defense of an ally -- most notably the United States -- under armed attack, is set to reconvene Sept. 12. They will meet several more times before reporting to Abe within the year, the source said.

Under its current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan does not permit itself to exercise the right because doing so would go beyond the self-defense allowed under the supreme law.

Abe launched a similar panel during his first stint as premier from 2006 to 2007. After taking office for the second time in December, he set up the current panel -- which contains many of the same members as the old one -- in February.

The panel did not meet for long though as the issue attracted some criticism and the administration was apparently concerned about the negative impact it was having on Abe's ruling bloc ahead of the House of Councillors election on July 21.

But with Abe and the ruling alliance scoring a major victory in the upper house poll and regaining full control of parliament, the debate will be resumed.

After the panel concludes discussions later this year, Abe is expected to announce a change in the government's interpretation of the Constitution and then submit a bill to the Diet to set rules for the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

Abe is also seeking to revise the Constitution to enhance Japan's defense capabilities and enable the country to play a bigger role in maintaining peace and security in Asia in the face of increasing threats from North Korea.