Abe to get expert report on collective defense, unveil stance Thurs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to receive a report Thursday from a panel of experts who will likely propose Japan lift its ban on using the right to collective self-defense, and announce his government's stance immediately, government sources said Tuesday.

Abe is expected to use specific examples that would require Japan to defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense, and urge the ruling bloc to conduct a review of the current legal framework at a press conference slated for Thursday, the sources added.

The issue of whether Japan should be allowed to exercise the right is still divisive in Japan, and the New Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, remains unconvinced about Abe's move.

For Abe and his LDP, support from New Komeito is vital to proceed with a series of envisaged changes to Japan's security policy, bound by the pacifist Constitution.

Japan has maintained it has the right to collective self-defense under international law, but cannot exercise it due to the limits imposed by Article 9 of the charter that bans the use of force to settle international disputes.

Headed by former Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai, the panel is also expected to propose Japan engage in U.N. collective security operations, and dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to cope with "gray zone" incidents that stop short of full-fledged military attacks on the country.