Japan could be “reborn” in 2020 if the Constitution is revised in time for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said while reiterating his ambition on Dec. 19 in Tokyo.

Abe said in a speech that enforcing a revised Constitution "would serve as a catalyst for creating a reborn Japan in a year when it hosts the Olympics and Paralympics. Discussions should deepen on the Constitution as a way of encouraging debate on what form and existence of the nation is most desirable."

When he first broached the possibility in May, it raised strong criticism even from within Abe's own ruling Liberal Democratic Party because of the feeling he was trying to rush through such an important issue.

Abe did not argue strongly for constitutional revision while campaigning for LDP candidates in the October Lower House election.

But in the Dec. 19 speech, Abe expressed his hope that discussions would be pushed forward on the issue.

"I hope that discussions can deepen within a quiet environment of the Constitution commissions (of the two Diet chambers) after all the political parties bring together their own views and specific proposals," Abe said.

Abe also acknowledged the criticism that arose as a result of his words in May.

"My statement in May was intended to serve as one way for pushing forward discussions on the Constitution that had stalled," Abe said. "But I faced a serious situation after making the comment because the method I proposed was much too large."

But he also expressed satisfaction that discussions within the LDP had gained momentum after his statement.

After his May speech, in which Abe also clearly stated adding wording to the pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution to define the existence of the Self-Defense Forces, the LDP held discussions within a party organ and included for the first time four specific constitutional amendment proposals in its campaign platform for the Lower House election.