Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a video message at a gathering calling for constitutional revisions in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on May 3. (Hiroyuki Yamamoto)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 3 clearly stated his desire to see a revised Constitution enforced in 2020 and mentioned war-renouncing Article 9 as a possible target.

Abe made the remarks in a video message released on Constitution Day, a national holiday.

The message was delivered at a gathering sponsored by a group with ties to Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), which has long sought changes to the postwar Constitution.

The Constitution has never been revised since it went into force 70 years ago.

Abe said amendments are needed for Article 9.

"While maintaining the two paragraphs of the article, the inclusion of a clear reference to the Self-Defense Forces is an idea that is worthy of discussion by the people,” Abe said in the video message.

For Abe to pursue this long-held political goal, he would need to win a third term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in autumn 2018.

The opposition parties will likely raise the issue when Diet deliberations resume next week.

In the video message, Abe explained that constitutional revision has been a goal of the LDP ever since the party was established in 1955.

“While a national referendum will, in the end, decide if the Constitution should be amended or not, only the Diet can initiate an amendment,” Abe said. “All Diet members should bear in mind the huge responsibility that they hold.”

The target year of 2020 will be when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, a timing not lost on the prime minister.

“That will be a common major objective for the Japanese people. That will be a year when a newly reborn Japan begins to move strongly forward,” Abe said.

Regarding Article 9, which prohibits Japan from maintaining land, sea and air forces, Abe said there is a need to clearly spell out the existence of the SDF.

“Many constitutional law scholars and political parties continue to argue that the SDF is unconstitutional,” Abe said. “That is very irresponsible.”