[JURIST] In his first major speech to parliament since taking office last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official profile; BBC profile] followed through on a promise [IHT report] to make amending the country's pacifist constitution a priority. The constitution [text], effectively imposed on Japan after World War II by the United States, forbids in Aricle 9 "the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes" - a restriction that Japan fears could hinder its ability to respond to a crisis [JURIST report] involving, for example, North Korea [JURIST news archive].
Abe said amending the constitution would make it "more suitable to a new generation," and while expressing hope that legislation authorizing a referendum on the constitution would pass soon. AFP has more. The Mainichi Daily News has local coverage.