Abolition 2000 Global Council Urges Japan Not to Abandon Article 9 of its Peace Constitution and to Lead Efforts for Negotiations to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.
ARTICLE 9: 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 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.
As the world commemorates the 69th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Abolition 2000 Global Council, in solidarity with our Japanese colleagues and members, is concerned by the shift in security policy that Japan is undergoing. The move is epitomized by the recent decision of Prime Minister Abe’s Cabinet to change the interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution – a decision that substantially eviscerates the clause of its principles and steps away from some of the country’s longstanding peace policies.
Japan adopted its war-renouncing constitution following World War II. Article 9 is a pledge to Japan itself and to the world, particularly neighboring countries that suffered under Japanese invasion and colonial rule, to never repeat its mistakes.
Despite constitutional restrictions, Japan has developed and gradually expanded its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to become one of the world’s top military spenders and one of the most advanced militaries in Asia. Yet, to date, the existence of Article 9 – and the Japanese people’s support for its principles – have forced the government to maintain peace policies including non-export of arms, a non-nuclear policy and not deploying the SDF for active combat.
Over the years since its inception, Article 9 has been widely recognized as a regional and international peace mechanism that has be instrumental in maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia and has served as a legal framework to promote peace, disarmament and sustainability. It has also significantly contributed to shaping a strong anti-nuclear weapons culture in Japan and beyond. As a result, no Japanese soldier has killed or died in combat since 1945.
The Cabinet decision to reinterpret Article 9 to loosen restrictions on Japan’s use of force and allow the country to take part in collective military action is the latest of a series of initiatives, pushed through by the government, that seek to erode Article 9 and some of the country’s pacific policies. Other recent measures include notably formulating a new national security policy; increasing for the second consecutive year the country’s military budget; and drastically relaxing the long-held arms export ban, to name just a few. Claimed to be part of a new doctrine of “pro-active pacifism”, these developments need to be understood in the context of US-Japan security cooperation, at a time when the two countries are revising their defense cooperation guidelines to pave the way for the increased participation of Japan in the US’ “Strategic Pivot” to Asia and strengthen military deterrence, including its nuclear dimension, which has been provoking China to take increasingly assertive actions.
The Abolition 2000 Global Council:
- Expresses concern about the efforts by the current Japanese administration to change the reading of the country’s peace constitution, in particular the July 1 Cabinet decision that substantially guts Article 9 of its spirit. These efforts undermine some of the peace policies Japan has pursued for decades and signal a worrying drift towards militarism;
- Exhorts Japan to not only preserve but to also enforce, implement and promote the peace principles enshrined in Article 9, specifically by reducing its military expenditures and rejecting dependence on nuclear weapons in security policies;
- Is alarmed by Japan’s shift in security policy that threatens, in the current context of regional tensions, to destabilize the fragile peace in Northeast Asia, trigger an arms race – including a nuclear weapons arms race – and lead to a confrontation that could have unprecedented consequences;
- Calls on Japan and neighboring countries to refrain from taking any steps that would escalate the tensions;
- Urges all countries in the region to work together towards the establishment of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone; and
- Calls on Japan to demonstrate the true intent of its new doctrine of “proactive pacifism” by playing a leading role in nuclear disarmament by spearheading negotiations for a global treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.
For more information on the debate, visit the Global Article 9 Campaign website (http://article-9.org) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/article9).
Support the Japanese-initiated international petition at http://is.gd/save_article_9