With the launch next Monday of a special intraparty panel directly under his lead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party are ready to kick off their full-fledged drive to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to help defend its allies.

Abe says he wants Japan to make a more "proactive contribution to peace," and to do this he plans to change the government's official interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 so the nation can exercise the right of collective self-defense, which means coming to the aid of Japanese allies who come under military attack.

Previous governments have maintained that Japan can't exercise the right to collective self-defense, which Article 51 of the United Nations Charter defines as an inherent right, because Article 9 of the Constitution prohibits Japan from using force to resolve international disputes and bans it from maintaining "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential."