Faced with a weakened hand following an election defeat in Tokyo and falling support ratings, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that he was open to a slower pace for his long-held goal of constitutional revision.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party executives have also urged caution.

At a news conference on Aug. 3 after reshuffling his Cabinet, Abe said that he was not wedded to a timetable that he proposed for submitting a draft amendment proposal.

"While I proposed a schedule because I felt there was a need to deepen discussions on what should be done with the Constitution, I will not insist on sticking to that schedule," Abe said.

Abe first indicated his seriousness about amending the Constitution when he proposed on May 3, Constitution Day, that an amended Constitution take effect in 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

One specific amendment proposal he made was to maintain the two current paragraphs of pacifist Article 9, but add wording that would clearly define the existence of the Self-Defense Forces.

Abe later urged the LDP to put together a draft constitutional amendment so it could be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened in autumn.

When Abe met with LDP executives before naming a new Cabinet on Aug. 3, they urged the prime minister to focus on other priorities.

"Leave (discussions about constitutional amendment) to the party, and I hope the Cabinet will concentrate on the economy," LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura told Abe in that meeting.

Abe said he agreed with Komura's suggestion.

During a news conference after the meeting, Komura brought up his exchange with Abe and referring to the prime minister's schedule for constitutional revision said, "A goal is not absolute."

LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai said at the news conference, "We should emphasize a stance of obtaining the views of a wide range of the public and be especially careful in how we proceed."

Fumio Kishida, the newly named LDP policy chief, has always favored a more cautious approach to constitutional revision, and he reiterated that stance on Aug. 3.

"Understanding among the public will increase by continuing to hold meticulous discussions," Kishida said.

Abe may have initially felt the time was right to push forward with constitutional revision because forces favoring such a move now make up more than the two-thirds majorities in both Diet chambers needed to initiate a constitutional amendment.

However, the disastrous showing by the LDP in the July Tokyo metropolitan assembly election and plunging support ratings for the Abe Cabinet forced the prime minister to rethink his schedule for amending the Constitution.