At the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's annual convention, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday renewed his vows to revise the postwar Constitution to rectify its perceived incompatibility with the Self-Defense Forces.

Abe's earnest pledge to formalize the status of the SDF, however, immediately triggered criticism from his rival that it lacked fresh details. It also followed a moment of contrition that saw Abe, seconds into his speech, bow deeply to apologize for an ongoing document-tampering scandal that has arguably clouded his prospects for winning a historic third term at the LDP's presidential election in September.

In an impassioned speech, Abe re-emphasized the need to legitimize the status of the SDF in the supreme law — an idea he first unveiled in May last year. Many constitutional scholars regard the SDF, which boasts one of the world's largest defense budgets, as a violation of war-renouncing Article 9, though the government has long argued otherwise on the grounds that the organization stops short of being the "war potential" proscribed by the pacifist clause.