Hotline Asia Urgent Appeals -- SUA070416(1)

Renounce Revisions to Article 9 of the Constitution
~JAPAN~
16 April 2007

Action Requested || Sample Letter || Background
Please respond before 3 May 2007
update

 

Summary

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s determination to revise the Constitution of Japan, including Article 9, will jeopardize the country’s contribution to peace without force. The government is hoping to pass a bill calling for referendum for the Constitution revision by 3 May 2007, which marks the 60th Anniversary of the Japanese Constitution. The bill has already been passed by the lower house of the Parliament on 13 April 2007. If the revision is made, the Constitution will permit the country to maintain de jure military forces.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution has played an active role in promoting peace. The Article states that the “right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized”. Its significance exceeds merely not waging war against other countries: its rationale has developed other relevant policies, such as the Three Principles on Arms Export, a progressive principle that recedes weapon trade.

At this critical time, there are already observations of invasion of rights within the country, particularly freedom of speech. According to a local source, public servants and teachers of public schools are prohibited from expressing opinions on the Constitution or they can be sanctioned by administrative measures.

The Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace and other secular organizations are actively soliciting opposition against the proposed bill. Organizations like Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict has launched a global campaign raising concern in other countries.

 

Action Requested

  1. Please send letter to urge the Japanese authorities to withdraw the bill, which among others, calls for amending Article 9 of its Constitution.

  2. Sign your name at Global Article 9 campaign under the section “Support Article 9”: http://www.article-9.org/en/index.html (To view support from like-minded individuals, you may enter “voices” section.)

Send letters to:    
Honourable Prime Minster Abe Shinzo
2-3-1 Nagata-cho Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0014
Japan
Fax:

Email:

+81-3-3581-3883

Through Prime Minister Office webpage

Send copies to:    
Show your solidarity to the Japanese Catholic community in the drive by sending a blind copy (BCC) to:
Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura
President, Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
2-10-10 Shiomi,
Koto-ku, Tokyo,
Japan 135-8585
Fax:

Email:

+81-3-5632-7920

jccjp@cbcj.catholic.jp

Diplomatic representatives of Japan in your country.    
 

Sample Letter

Honourable Prime Minister,

We are writing to congratulate you on the peace effort that Japan has made to the world in the past 60 years. The country’s sincere aspiration to contribute to international peace stipulated in Article 9 of your Constitution has contributed greatly to the well-being of humankind. It is unfortunate and sarcastic that the government attempts to sweep its noble contribution by attempting to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution through the recent referendum bill.

The significance of Article 9 exceeds merely playing a passive role in war-waging. Indeed, its rhetoric has translated into other policies, such as the Three Principles on Arms Export, which actively promote international peace by receding weapon trade. Moreover, Article 9 further strengthens Article 26 of the United Nation Charter, which stipulates minimization of the world’s resources to be used for military purposes.

With such noble contribution, Japan, the second largest economy in the world, is well-positioned to demonstrate the role model of a great power: with strength and perseverance to stand on righteous ground and to build peace without the exertion of force. Therefore, we eagerly urge your government to relinquish the proposed bill altogether.

Background

Article 9 has been part of the country’s Constitution since 1945, as required by the United States after Japan’s surrender in the same year. According to the Article, Japan aspires “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 means of settling international disputes. 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 Constitution restrained the establishment of armed forces, except strictly for self-defense. Japan maintains Self-Defense Forces (SDF), the national security arm.

The distressing bill is one of the latest moves by the Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s government to achieve assertive foreign policy since taking office in 2006. In January 2007, the Japan Defence Agency was upgraded to the Ministry of Defence. The move will be followed by a long list of defence bill: Japan is accelerating the deployment of its missile defence system as part of an elaborate US$8.5 billion plan. It is also in the process of replacing its ageing fleet of nearly 300 fighter jets at the cost of US$128 million to US$200 million each.

Supporters of the bill observed that the revision will make it easier for Japan to pursue collective self-defense and integrate the SDF into multilateral frameworks, similar to SDF’s first overseas deployment without a UN agreement to Iraq in 2004.

Article 9 as a Catalyst for Peace

Many policies and principles of Japan are based on Article 9. The Three Principles on Arms Export, for example, generally prohibiting the export of arms and weapons, is a progressive principle which does not have any other precedent in the world. Japan, with its experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also has the Non-Nuclear Three Principles, which prohibits the possession, production and introduction of nuclear weapons into its territory. These various principles have played an important role in the establishment of trust relationships between Japan and the people of Asia and the Pacific, and the international community.

With Article 9 and the above-mentioned principles, Japan strengthens the peace principle of the United Nations by restraining arms race. The UN Charter calls for a peaceful resolution to conflicts: its Article 26 stipulates the minimization of the world’s resources to be used for military purposes. Any revision or abandonment of Article 9 is directed to the erosion of such principles of peace, along with raising concern for threat to the security of the Asia Pacific region.

Source:
Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace

Global Article 9 Campaign

Ministry of Defence of Japan

United Nation

Wikipedia on Japan Self-Defence Force

The Weekly Standard, on-line features of The Weekly Standard, Washington

Financial Times

 

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