Global Issues: Japan/Peace Movements & Peace Museums/Article 9
Article 9 National Debate
Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits an act of war by the state. It came into effect May 3, 1947 immediately following WWII.
The official English translation is:
“Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever denounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as 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.” (Japanese Constitution)
Prime minister Kijuro Shidehara proposed the article. He wanted to prohibit any military establishment for Japan. He believed any substandard post war military would lose the respect of the people and he feared people would begin to obsess with rearming Japan.
In 1950, the US Military was pulled out of Japan to assist in the Korean War, leaving Japan without armed protection. The US Military created a 75,000 person group called National Police Reserve (NPR) to maintain order and defend any possible invasion. This eventually turned into Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) which has self defense forces for land, air and sea.
In 2007, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a review of the document to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and revive national pride. However, many oppose this idea and it therefore has become a national debate.
Some Arguments for Article 9 Revisions:
Some feel that countries have the right to govern their own militaries with their fullest capabilities. This could give Japan a stronger world presence.
North Korea missile testing in Japanese airspace as well as Chinese and South Korean land conflicts press some to want to build a stronger defense against these kinds of possible regional dangers.
Japanese allies would benefit from their investments in military and support in times of crisis.
Many countries have put their wrongs behind them such as Germany has sent troops to Afghanistan and Kosovo. Some feel Japan should look beyond past war crimes and join world military forces again.
Some Arguments Against an Article 9 Revision:
Japan’s enviroment could become dangerous if neighboring countries feel threatened by an aggressive Japanese military.
Many feel the handling of Japan’s actions in WWII are still not recognized truthfully such as shrines to war criminals and the current Prime Minister approved textbooks that skip over shameful aspects of the war. So, they feel the restrictions of Article 9 should remain.
Many people are comfortable with assisting the US military financially because it allows Japan to keep their pacifist approach, which has grown to become a strong cultural value for the country. They would rather seek influence than force.
While Japan is the only country to ever have been attacked by nuclear weapons, it still holds a non-violent and non-forceful approach to conflict. Many feel this sets a great example for the rest of the world to follow.