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Japanese Civil-Society Organizations Campaign for Saving the Anti-War Constitution

Nihon_Kenpo03

The original of "The Constitution of the State of Japan"

Japanese civil-society organizations have spurred their global campaign in order to gain support for retaining Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. The article renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and over the years governments have tried to re-interpret and amend the article in order to participate in international operations.






July 9, 2013

After the atrocities of World War II and following the demilitarization of Japan, a new constitution for Japan was drafted by the United States. The new constitution replacing the one of the Meiji restoration came into effect in 1947, including an article denouncing war as a means of settling international disputes. Article 9 reads:

  1.       Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
  2.       In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

The Northeast Asian network of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) initiated the Global Article 9 Campaign already in 2005 in order to preserve the anti-war nature of the Japanese constitution. Peace Boat and Japan Lawyers International Solidarity Association (JALISA), two Japanese civil society organizations, are organizing the campaign and gathering international support for the article.

The organizations that campaign for retaining the article report that after the election of the Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in 2012, the discussions about amending Article 9 have been “back at the top of the political agenda”. They have spurred the campaign under the elections of the Upper House of the Diet taking place on 21 July 2013, as they state in their change.org campaign that the Liberal Democratic Party is driving a revision of the constitution as a priority.

The constitution has been interpreted as preserving Japan’s right to self-defense. That is why Japan still has armed forces, as the article is interpreted to allow Japan to maintain a “minimum level of armed force needed to exercise that right”, as it is formulated in the provisional translation of the Japanese Ministry of Defense Annual White Paper Defence of Japan 2013.

The Global Article 9 Campaign argues that the article has global significance as it has influence on international relations as well as Japanese domestic policies, providing legal support for human rights, disarmament and nuclear weapons abolition, among other significant issues.

Read more here or support the campaign at the campaign website or at change.org.

GPPAC (2008): Global Article 9 Campaign.

 

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