People are not prime minister's subordinates -- Akahata editorial, February 7

A high school student in Miyazaki Prefecture drafted a petition calling for Iraq reconstruction assistance without use of force, and collected 5,000 signatures. She submitted them to the Cabinet Office. Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro, without reading the petition simply said, "Teachers should explain the state of affairs of Iraq and teach students how complex international politics is."

In parliament on February 5 he stated, "If teachers stated that the Self-Defense Forces are dispatched to fight a war, that the dispatch is in violation of the Constitution, or that they will use force, such teachers must be called into question." He went on to say ,"Some teachers take part in demonstrations opposing the dispatch as unconstitutional, but they had better concentrate on education rather than devoting themselves to political activities."

We, the Japanese people

The prime minister's remarks were disturbing.

First, he infringed on the right of petition guaranteed by the Constitution's Article 16 when he gave negative comments on the 18-year-old high school student's petition, without considering its contents.

Second, as a gesture of disapproval of the student's petition, the prime minister demanded that teachers make the students understand the state of affairs in Iraq and the complexity of international politics, threatening them that their remarks about the SDF dispatch issue, particularly about its being unconstitutional, will be a problem. Such statements are meant to control or intrude into education and force teachers to teach as instructed by the prime minister and the government.

Third, Koizumi said that it is problematic for teachers to express their will as members of the society to "devote themselves to political activities," even as individuals outside of schools. This amounts to suppressing the people's freedom of speech, of thought and religion, and of expression.

The student's petition stating, "Taking pride in Article 9 of the Constitution, I wish to see the Iraq issue resolved with the view of breaking the vicious spiral of violence" is much more realistic and reasonable than the prime minister's parliamentary statement. The need now is for Mr. Koizumi to listen to the public and hold high school teachers in high regard for producing students who can express informed opinions to the prime minister.

To begin with, the preamble and the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution begins with the "Japanese people" as the subject phrase. No one but the "Japanese people" renounced war and rejected the state's right of belligerency.

In the light of constitutional ideas and principles, any action by the public as sovereign to prevent the government from moving toward a war under any pretext is justifiable.

'Unjustifiable intervention' in education

Japan's Tenno (imperial) government mobilized the people for the war of aggression (WWII) using unscientific education based on the emperor-centered historiography and militarism. The Constitution, based on a deep remorse for this, provides that "All people shall have the right to receive an equal education" and "academic freedom is guaranteed."

Article 10 of the Fundamental Law of Education provides that "Education shall not be subject to improper control, but shall be directly responsible to the whole people," and "School administration shall, on the basis of this realization, aim at the adjustment and establishment of the various conditions required for the pursuit of the aim of education."

The people are not the prime minister's subordinate. The people have sovereign rights to decide on government action. It amounts to "improper control" for Mr. Koizumi and his coalition cabinet to impose their views on students and teachers in the attempt to justify the overseas dispatch of the SDF. The Japanese people can never accept such a control. (end)

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