TOKYO, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a policy speech outlining his goals ahead in an extraordinary Diet session convened on Friday and to end in December, marking the first such assembly since the upper house election in July.
Abe, leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said the economy remains his top priority amid a consumption tax increase which came into effect on Tuesday and other downside pressures facing the government's balance sheet including ballooning social welfare costs.
Japan's rapidly aging society, which is steadily seeing social security outlays increase, in twine with the nation's shrinking population, as the birthrate continues to decline, were also highlighted by Abe as being a major focal point looking ahead.
The Japanese leader said that in order to ensure that the social security system can cope with the ever-increasing demographic crisis, which is also slowly hollowing out the nation's workforce, a strong economy is paramount.
The prime minister described it as the country's "biggest challenge."
Abe also told the Diet that in terms of outside influences on Japan's economy, such as ongoing and more recent trade issues, as well as uncertainty surrounding Britain's planned departure from the European Union, that these were situations that would be tracked and dealt with as necessary.
"Should downside risks become evident, we will take flexible and sufficient steps without hesitation to make sure that the economy is on a firm growth path," the Japanese leader said.
In the first parliamentary session since a Cabinet reshuffle last month aimed at bolstering public support and ensuring that his key political allies remain in close quarters, Abe also said that lawmakers should debate his legacy-led goal of amending Japan's Constitution.
"Let us fulfill our responsibility as Diet members to the people," Abe told the session, with reference to the politically and socially divisive issue of changing Japan's pacifist charter for the first time since World War II.