This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution.
The following six essays will present various voices that shape Japan’s debate over its constitution and the prospect of revising it. Contributing their views are: Naomi Takasu, an advocate of protecting the constitution and of nominating Article Nine for the Nobel Peace Prize; Shinichi Kitaoka, a leading Japanese diplomatic historian who served as the vice chairman of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, a panel convened by the Abe cabinet to consult before it passed a cabinet resolution on the right of collective self defense; Karin Koretsune, a graduate student of Japan Women’s University and a member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs); Keigo Komamura, a constitutional law scholar and vice president of Keio University; and Masatoshi Asaoka and Ayumi Teraoka, intern and research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
A Nobel Peace Prize for Article Nine by Naomi Takasu
Naomi Takasu is the Joint Representative of Executive Committee for “The Nobel Peace Prize for Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution.”
The Japanese constitution, including its Article Nine that renounces war, military forces, and the right of belligerency, is the only constitution in the world that recognizes “that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear, and want” (Preamble).
In a world where war has yet to be eliminated, we must recognize and hold high our constitution’s pacifist ideals. Our constitution renounces war, seeking to set an example of reflection on Japan’s past behavior in World War II, speaks not only to the Japanese people but also to all people across the globe. It is a positive contribution to global efforts to sustain peace.
However, the Japanese government passed the Diet resolution in July 2014 to allow for the use of the right of collective self-defense, a right that has long been forbidden under our constitution. Based on this cabinet resolution, the Abe government steamrolled deliberations in the Diet over new security legislation last fall that would open the way for Japan to participate in war despite strong opposition. This legislation allows Japan to join and support other nations’ wars, threatening other people’s “right to live in peace.”
Abe’s new laws contradict not only Article Nine but also our constitution’s preamble. Article Ninety-eight states that, “This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the nation and no law, ordinance, imperial rescript or other act of government, or part thereof, contrary to the provisions hereof, shall have legal force or validity. The treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed.”
In addition, the government has changed the norms that have long been associated with our constitution, yet did not follow the constitution’s provision for revision, Article Ninety-six. Article Ninety-six lays out the process for changing our constitution, a process that includes the will of the Japanese people. Popular sovereignty is the basis of our constitution, and the government’s reinterpretation of Article Nine without consulting the Japanese people violates this fundamental principle.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is considering including “the right to peace” as an international human right in much the same way as our constitution does. If this right is recognized globally, there will be a way for all the states including those with veto power at the United Nations Security Council to restrain their military activity.
We, the advocates for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Article Nine of the Japanese constitution, aim to maintain, make use of, and promote the Article Nine to the world. We will act to abolish Japan’s new security laws, and we support the incorporation of the “right to peace” in the UN Human Rights Charter.
For all peace-loving people around the world, please work to create a world where everyone is guaranteed a life of peace. Raise your voice to elevate the right to peace as an international human right.
Add your signature to our petition here: https://www.change.org/p/un-stand-up-for-right-to-peace.
Each person’s voice and capacity might be small but will become a great force when combined. Let’s keep up our good work from wherever each of us is positioned so that someday the world will become the place where people around the world can live peacefully.