Shii calls for national unity to defend Article 9

Following is the gist of the speech by Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at the "May 3 Constitution Meeting 2001" in Tokyo:

The new cabinet formed by Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro is taking hawkish lines, and many people, including those who expect something from the Koizumi Cabinet, are worried about his belligerent stance.

Unconstitutional SDF must be changed step by step toward full implementation of Article 9

Soon after his election as Liberal Democratic Party president, Koizumi said that it is unnatural to call the Self-Defense Forces anything but military forces and that he wants to get the Constitution revised so that the SDF, the members of which are willing to give their lives in cases of emergency, are constitutional. I was frightened, as he was talking about "to sacrifice one's life in case of emergency" as if it is matter of fact.

If he doesn't want the SDF to be called unconstitutional, what he should do as the government leader is not to solve the problem with a revision of Article 9, but to make efforts to get rid of the unconstitutional realities of the SDF step by step and fully implement Article 9 which Japan can be proud of in the international community.

The revision of Article 9 is aimed at allowing Japan to take part in U.S. wars without restrictions

Those who are calling for a revision of Article 9 do not just want to make the SDF constitutional and the public express respect for it. Their true aim is to allow Japan to take part in U.S. global wars of interference and intervention without restrictions.

Koizumi has stated that he wants to get Article 9 revised and simultaneously establish the right to collective self-defense for Japan. He also said that the Constitution should be revised if it is difficult to exercise the right to collective self-defense.

Referring to successive governments' statements denying Japan's right to collective self-defense, he said he respects the present interpretation of the Constitution but it is necessary to study all possible situations.

Either by a change of the text or a change of its interpretation, the revision of Article 9 and the possibility of Japan's exercising the right to collective self-defense are being discussed as the two sides of the same coin.

I'm not sure whether Prime Minister Koizumi is aware of how dangerous such a discussion is.

In his campaign for the LDP presidency, he initially was negative about allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, but later changed his mind to support it. He is a hawk without consistent principles.

If he is a person who knows the dangerous meaning of the call of the revision of Article 9, he would show some restraint. The real danger is that he is arguing for constitutional changes without knowing how dangerous it is.

Their aim is to eliminate restriction on War Laws for their smooth implementation

What's the purpose of the call for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense?

First, the government finds it difficult to implement the 1999 War Laws enacted to implement the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, the reason being the constitutional ban on such a right.

Under the Guidelines-related War Laws, Japan's Self-Defense Forces work with the U.S. Forces in military operations to deal with "situations" in areas surrounding Japan, but are restricted to "logistic support." Legally, the SDF are not allowed to take part in the U.S. Forces' combat operations.

In parliamentary debates, JCP Dietmembers have repeatedly exposed the government's lies. We've argued that once a war breaks out, there is no boundary marker between the front lines and the rear area. Clearly, rear area support, or logistic support, is part of warfare.

So, by invoking the right to collective self-defense, the government is trying to remove restrictions in order to implement the War Laws more smoothly and to carry out Japan-U.S. joint military operations abroad without any limitation.

Stop "collective military intervention" being carried out in the name of "collective self-defense"

Second, the term "the right to collective self-defense" gives the impression of being an action to defend Japan from aggression, which is not true.

Look at U.S. world strategy. It has nothing to do with "replying to aggression in self-defense"; it is the U.S. commitment to unilaterally using force. The U.S. will invoke wars of intervention in the world without hesitation under the pretext of defending U.S. national interest.

The 1999 airstrikes by the U.S. against Yugoslavia is one such example. Last February, just after his inauguration, President George W. Bush carried out airstrikes against Iraq. How bellicose of Bush to launch an attack by way of announcing his inauguration!

The Guidelines-War Laws are aimed at allowing Japan to assist U.S. wars exactly in this way. In an attempt to escalate the dangerous setup for implementing the War Laws, the government wants to establish Japan's right to collective self-defense, making Japan join together with the U.S. to act toward invoking wars of intervention in violation of the United Nations Charter.

Dangerous move under U.S. direction

Behind these recent moves is U.S. strategy toward Japan.

In October 2000, a bipartisan study group on the U.S.-Japan partnership at the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the U.S. National Defense University, led by Richard L. Armitage, now U.S. deputy Secretary of State, urged Japan to adopt the right to collective self-defense.

Last February, Yamasaki Taku, now Liberal Democratic Party secretary general, and Nakatani Gen, now Defense Agency director general, visited the U.S. and met Armitage. In response to the request by Armitage, Yamasaki said that Japan should exercise the right to collective self-defense with some conditions. Although Yamasaki's comment was conditional, this is an actual pledge that he will make efforts to legalize Japan's right to collective self-defense.

It is quite serious for these two senior LDP officials to be appointed to key posts of the Koizumi cabinet.

Military logic in service of U.S. forces overrides everything

In this context, in March, the Liberal Democratic Party National Defense Division published a proposal entitled, "Establishing Japan's security policy and the Japan-U.S. alliance."

We have found that the U.S. played a role in making that proposal. Former U.S. Department of Defense official for Japan affairs James Auer gave a lecture at a meeting of the LDP National Defense Division. In his lecture, Auer reminded the panel that the U.S. military program has to be extremely complicated because Japan is too slow to move towards exercising the right of collective self-defense. He said that the Japanese government is equivocal about whether or not Japan mobilizes its F15s and AEGIS ships for U.S. forces in combat action. He added that such an ambivalence makes it hard for the U.S. to make up a military plan, and urged Japan to adopt the right of collective self-defense.

The proposal made by the LDP panel on defense contained exactly what Auer said. It said that new Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines-related War Laws have their limitations; Japan's ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense makes U.S. military operations extremely complicated, which in the event of war may hinder Japan and the U.S. from taking joint action to deter conflict.

Thus, the U.S. tried to justify its demand by using the military logic that such a step is necessary for facilitating U.S. military operations. What alarmed me after I came to know of how the proposal came out is that the military logic is overriding everything else.

In U.S. military logic, Japan's Guidelines-related War Laws are inconvenient. They are not certain if Japan's F15s and AEGIS ships will be mobilized to help the U.S. forces. To them, the Guidelines-related War Laws are no good because they only allow Japan's forces to support the U.S. Forces in rear areas, which requires U.S. warships in action in the front line to return to the rear to get supplies and to go to the front line again.

In U.S. military thinking the laws are of no use and therefore should be changed. This shows how the logic of serving military purposes is beginning to prevail, which is a very dangerous move.

How shameless and opportunistic it is of those people to try to follow U.S. instructions to establish Japan's right to collective self-defense and to revise the Japanese Constitution on the grounds that Japan's Constitution is a product of outside imposition.

Prime Minister Koizumi made remarks showing a positive attitude towards allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense. A senior U.S. government official spared no time in welcoming the remark as encouraging.

Call for direct popular election of prime minister is cover for attempt to allow prime minister to exercise greater executive power independent of parliament

True, their aim is the adverse revision of the Constitution's Article 9, which an overwhelming majority of the people wants to defend. Therefore, Prime Minister Koizumi considering amending the Constitution to introduce a system of electing the prime minister by popular vote is the first easy step to get the people to accept constitutional amendment.

Clearly, Prime Minister Koizumi wants to use such a constitutional change as a rehearsal for the revision of Article 9. Isn't it outrageous to deal with such a serious question out of partisan interests?

The system of electing the prime minister by popular vote is dangerous because it will give the government executive power which is virtually independent of the parliament. Even now the government ignores the parliament and takes initiatives to force many undemocratic bills into laws. If a plebiscite on the prime minister is introduced under the present government, an enormous authority would be given to executive power, which will undermine the position of the Diet as the highest organ of state power and the body representing the people.

This is not the kind of reform which is called for. The need now is to change the election system particularly in such undemocratic aspects as the single-seat constituency system distorting the people's will. It is also necessary to increase and improve the Diet's function of overseeing the government and make the Diet the representative of the people and the highest organ of state power, in both name and in reality.

Article 9 is compass guiding Japan and the world in 21st century

The world now has its full attention on the value of Article 9 of Japan's Constitution. The 1999 World Citizens Peace Conference in The Hague launched an action program which includes a call for national parliaments to adopt a declaration renouncing war following the example of Article 9.

In the United Nations Millennium Forum in May 2000, there was discussion in favor of national constitutions adopting clauses similar to what Article 9 stipulates.

The 21st century will be an era in which reason and peaceful diplomatic efforts, not military force, are the way and means to settle international disputes and defend the world order of peace.

Article 9 is a treasure for the people. I want to call for common action and movement to be developed on the single focus on defending Article 9 against all maneuvers to amend it, beyond differences of affiliations.

Given that attempts to adversely revise the Constitution stem from the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, I want to close my speech by calling on you to make the Constitution, not the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the real compass for Japan in the 21st century. (end)