Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a step forward in the push for revising the Constitution by giving a specific time frame to his campaign — that he hopes to have an amendment take effect in 2020. He also singled out the war-renouncing Article 9 as a priority target for amendment, proposing an additional provision to clarify the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces.

Abe's remarks, made in a video message played at a May 3 event organized by proponents of amending the nation's supreme code, which has never been revised since it was introduced 70 years ago, may reflect his frustration with the slow progress in Diet discussions for an amendment even though his ruling coalition, along with its pro-amendment allies, secured for the first time last year the two-thirds majority in both Diet chambers required to initiate an amendment for approval in a national referendum. Abe, who apparently views amending the postwar Constitution as a key component of his once-avowed push for a "departure from Japan's postwar regime," earlier said he wants to see the Constitution revised while he is in office — which now seems possible through 2021.

However, the time frame that Abe specified for an amendment has no relevance to the question of whether and how the Constitution should be revised. Abe said that 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, should be a major turning point for Japan to be reborn with a view to its future — just like the last Olympics that Japan hosted in 1964 helped transform the nation into an advanced country — and that he "strongly hopes" an amended Constitution will be implemented the same year. That is hardly a convincing rationale for trying to change the Constitution within that time frame.