Japan's ruling bloc is set to vote in an upper house committee on security bills aimed at expanding the country's military role, as thousands of protesters gather outside the parliament.

The bills would allow Japan's military to defend its allies even when Japan isn't under attack, and to do more in international peacekeeping.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan needs the bills to bolster its defense amid China's growing assertiveness and to share the global peacekeeping effort. Opponents say the legislation violates Japan's war-renouncing constitution, while putting Japan at risk of being embroiled in U.S.-led wars.

Opposition lawmakers on Wednesday are talking of preventing others from entering the committee chamber and proposing a non-confidence vote against Abe's Cabinet, as protesters are gathering outside the parliament building.