Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the importance of the security alliance with the United States and called on Diet members to seriously debate constitutional revision in a speech on Jan. 20 to open the ordinary Diet session.

With Donald Trump to be sworn in as U.S. president in a matter of hours, Abe said he was planning to visit the United States at an early date to meet with the new president to strengthen the bilateral alliance.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the enforcement of the Constitution, Abe also touched upon his long-held goal of revising that document.

"In this milestone year, the question arises about the kind of nation we want to make Japan over the next 70 years," Abe said in his policy speech. "Let us deepen detailed discussions within the Constitution commissions (of the two chambers) in order to present a proposal in response to that question to the people."

He urged Diet members to push forward in narrowing the issue areas subject to constitutional revision.

Abe made his call to a Diet in which both chambers have two-third majorities that favor some form of constitutional revision. Such a majority is needed to initiate an amendment that would then be submitted to voters in a national referendum.

Abe also talked about visiting Pearl Harbor in December where he paid his respects to war victims along with U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of our foreign and national security policy, and that is an unchanging principle," Abe said.

In that regard, Abe said it was vital to make progress on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago, also in Okinawa.

"We must make every effort for the complete return (of the land in Ginowan)," he said.

Abe also said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade arrangement was the foundation of future economic cooperation.

Trump has pledged as one of the first things he would do after becoming president is have the United States leave the TPP.

Abe expressed his intention to reach an early agreement with the European Union on an economic partnership agreement.

Abe also talked about improving ties with Russia as a means of resolving the dispute over the Northern Territories.

Referring to the agreement reached with Russian President Vladimir Putin in late December regarding the start of negotiations for joint economic activities on the four islands off the coast of Hokkaido, Abe said, "We have made an important first step toward the signing of a peace treaty (to formally end World War II)."

He added that he wanted to visit Russia early this year to add further momentum to the opportunity presented in December.