[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website; BBC profile] repeated his call for reforming the Japanese constitution [text] on Thursday, the day of the constitution's 60th anniversary. Abe said that the country's pacifist constitution "needs to be revised as its basic framework can no longer proceed with major changes in the administration system, relations between central and local governments, and foreign and security policies." On April 13, the Japanese House of Representatives [official website] approved [JURIST report] a bill authorizing a national referendum on revisions to the constitution. The bill will now need to pass in the House of Councillors [official website, in Japanese] with a two-thirds approval. Abe initiated the bill [JURIST report] in April, hoping it would become law before the current parliamentary session adjourns on June 23.
The proposed revisions are particularly focused on Article 9 [text; Wikipedia backgrounder], which has been interpreted to bar Japan [JURIST news archive] from maintaining military forces and from using force in international conflicts except in self-defense. Some fear the article may potentially hinder Japan's ability to respond to crises [JURIST report]. AFP has more.