Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions at his first news conference this year in Ise, Mie Prefecture, on Jan. 4. (Yoichi Kawatsu)

ISE, Mie Prefecture--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Jan. 4 indicated that his New Year’s resolution is to take the next big step toward revising the Constitution.

The prime minister said he will instruct the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to present draft revisions to the Diet this year.

“The Constitution represents the way this nation should be and its ideal state,” Abe said at his first news conference of 2018 after visiting Ise Jingu shrine here. “It is time to fully present to the public a Constitution that serves as a hope for new times and to deepen public debate toward constitutional revision.”

He said that “popular sovereignty, protection of basic human rights and pacifism will remain the basic principles” in the draft of the revised Constitution.

But he stressed that it is only natural to hold talks on how Japan should be in response to the changing times.

Japan’s pacifist Constitution went into force in 1947 and has never been amended. Changes to the Constitution must be approved by two-thirds of members of both Diet houses and a majority in a national referendum.

Abe did not specify when he would file a motion for a vote in the Diet or when he wanted to hold a national referendum.

“I would like to leave all related matters to the LDP,” he said.

He also avoided giving a clear-cut answer on whether he will seek a third term as LDP president, when his current term expires in September.

“I am ready to focus my attention on the ordinary Diet session to generate results,” he said, referring to the session that starts later this month. “I will think about what I should do after that.”