Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has fought to alter the Constitution on matters of security, is less eager to oppose its principles when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Changing the charter to allow gay marriage would require "extremely cautious consideration," Abe said Wednesday in the Diet. The Constitution "does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex," he said.

Abe was responding to opposition lawmaker Kota Matsuda, who said a move by Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, toward recognizing same-sex partnerships gives hope to the estimated 5 percent of the population that is gay. The gay marriage movement has growing public support and some political backing.