Twenty-six minutes and 20 seconds. That's how long Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spent pitching his ideas on the momentous issue of constitutional revision during debate in the current Diet session.

That's four times longer than the 6 minutes and 40 seconds he devoted to the subject in Diet debate last year, The Asahi Shimbun found.

Abe's long-cherished dream of going down in history as the first leader to amend the war-renouncing Constitution is now within sight as he hopes to achieve his goal in 2020.

As of Feb. 6, the issue had been raised at seven sessions of budget committees of both Diet chambers.

During that time, Abe fielded questions on constitutional revision from lawmakers on seven occasions.

Last year, Abe touched on the issue at seven sessions of budget committees in the two chambers. At that time, three lawmakers asked him about it.

Abe, a staunch advocate of amending the Constitution, announced last May that he will strive to ensure a revised Constitution takes force in 2020, the same year as the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are held.

His Liberal Democratic Party presented two proposals late last year for revising Article 9, the most contentious point of the revision debate.

One is to add a paragraph spelling out the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces while keeping the preceding two paragraphs. The other is to add a paragraph on the nature and purpose of the SDF while deleting the second paragraph for the sake of consistency.

The second paragraph stipulates: “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Abe, in his efforts to woo Komeito, a junior partner in the ruling coalition and a party with a strong pacifist leaning, settled on the first version.

In pitching this version during Diet discussions, Abe said it will ease widespread concerns among the opposition parties and the public about Japan being dragged into a war involving an ally.

“I don't believe Japan could exercise the right to collective self-defense without restrictions (under my revision proposal),” he stated.

Shigeru Ishiba, a former LDP secretary-general and Abe’s potential rival in the party’s leadership race this autumn, is in favor of deleting the second paragraph. He has some support within the party for this.

Some lawmakers, regardless of their affiliation, are concerned that the SDF’s constitutionality itself will be called into question if voters reject Abe's proposal in a referendum.

But Abe insists that successive governments have clung to the position that the SDF is constitutional and a setback in a referendum would not change things.

The Constitution went into force in 1947. It has never been amended.

Changes must be approved by two-thirds of members of both Diet chambers and a majority in a referendum.