Panel eyes submitting report on collective self-defense in spring

A key member of a panel on security affairs said Sunday he expects the panel to recommend as early as spring that the government lift a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense.

Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the International University of Japan who serves as acting chairman of the panel, said the panel plans to submit a report on its recommendation to the government immediately after parliament passes the state budget for fiscal 2014, which will start April 1.

"It's not an issue that would require a few months. It is possible (for the panel to) file a proposal immediately after" the Diet approves the budget, Kitaoka said in a television program.

Kitaoka said he wants the panel to submit the report sooner rather than later, citing the need for the government to make a decision on whether to lift the ban in time for the envisaged revision of the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines by the end of next year.

Speaking to journalists last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated that the government is likely to make such a decision in the next fiscal year or later.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed willingness to change the government's interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or defending an ally under armed attack.

However, the New Komeito party, the junior ruling coalition partner of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, remains cautious about such a move.