Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday called for summit meetings with Chinese and South Korean leaders to address the problems that have increased tension in Asia, while also reiterating his intention to revise Japan's pacifist Constitution.
Speaking at a plenary session of the House of Councillors following last week's opening of the ordinary Diet session, Abe said leaders of Japan, China and South Korea "should meet and frankly discuss (issues) without setting any preconditions."
Relations between Japan and the two neighboring countries have been strained over territorial disputes and differing views on wartime history.
Abe, who took office in December 2012, has so far been unable to hold summits with South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping since they assumed the leadership of their countries, in February and March respectively.
Tensions have escalated since last month when Abe visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, drawing sharp rebukes from China and South Korea for being insensitive given their sufferings under Japanese wartime brutality. The Shinto shrine honors convicted Japanese wartime leaders along with war dead.
Abe, responding to questions from ruling and opposition lawmakers following his policy speech on Friday, said he wants to "deepen national debate on our Constitution in the future" adding he would deal with the issue "thoroughly."
The prime minister has expressed his intention to enhance Japan's defense capabilities, increasing the possibility that Tokyo would revise the war-renouncing Constitution, even though the issue is another source of concern for neighboring countries.
Abe is seen as particularly aiming to enable Japan's Self-Defense Forces to be more aggressively involved in missions to maintain global peace and stability.