Abe's panel to propose Japan lift ban on collective self-defense

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to receive a report Thursday from a panel of security experts calling on Japan to defend allies under armed attack by lifting its long-standing ban on the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.

Abe is scheduled to hold a press conference later in the day to explain his stance on the proposal that would mark a drastic change to the country's postwar security framework bounded by the pacifist Constitution.

China's maritime assertiveness and North Korea's missile threat continue to alarm Japan, bolstering the case for Abe to seek stronger defenses and a robust U.S.-Japan alliance. The panel is headed by former Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai.

The ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party will start a debate on whether Japan should be allowed to exercise the right to collective self-defense, after Abe gives a clearer picture of how his government aims to move forward on the divisive issue.

New Komeito remains cautious about Abe's push, wary of undermining Article 9 of the Constitution that bans the use of force to settle international disputes.

For decades, Japan has maintained that it possesses the right to collective self-defense but cannot exercise it due to the legal limits imposed by Article 9.