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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the press on Monday after the lower house election.
Japan's Election

Constitutional reform not bound by schedule: Abe

Won solid majority but still needs referendum for amendment on armed forces

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his willingness to proceed with revising Japan's constitution with caution, as his ruling coalition's crushing victory in the lower house election moved him a step closer to his life-long dream.

The prime minister in May laid out his road map for constitutional reform, hoping to have the revised constitution in place by 2020. But during his first press conference on Monday after the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito secured a super majority in the Diet, Abe said that revision is "not bound by any schedule."

"I only proposed the date to get the debate on the issue going," Abe said. "I would like to deepen the discussion within the LDP regarding our proposal [for constitutional amendment], and then discussion among the public."

Revising the constitution has long been a core party principle for the LDP, but this was the first time the party included the aim in its election manifesto. The LDP proposes to amend the constitution's Article 9, which forbids Japan from possessing armed forces, and to recognize the Self-Defense Forces.

In addition to a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, Abe would also need to win a national referendum on the issue, which opinion polls suggest could be a struggle.

"We need a broad consensus not just within the ruling coalition, but with the opposition parties also. I will strive to achieve their understanding," Abe said. "I will also work to gain the public's understanding, so that we get a majority in the national referendum."

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