The deputy chief of New Komeito cast doubt on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's move to lift the government's outright ban on using the right to collective self-defense, saying there are cases in which Japan could come to the aid of allies like the United States while defending itself.

If U.S. vessels sailing on the high seas to defend Japan are attacked by a third country, Tokyo could treat it as an armed attack and mobilize the Self-Defense Forces, Kazuo Kitagawa said in a recent interview. His argument runs counter to Abe's claim that such a situation should be dealt with as a collective self-defense operation.

"We could say clearly that it is the launch of a military attack on our country (legally allowing the SDF to be dispatched)," Kitagawa said. He suggested that the ruling bloc needs to discuss and compile a road map detailing a set of legal challenges to be cleared for national security and have it approved by the Cabinet.