2,000 Okinawans listen to Article 9 Association lecture

The Article 9 Association's sixth speech assembly was held on December 1st in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, which continues to be burdened by a heavy concentration of U.S. military bases in Japan.

The speakers were writer Oda Makoto, constitution scholar Okudaira Yasuhiro, and Nobel Prize writer Oe Kenzaburo, who founded the Article 9 Association together with six other public figures to help develop a nationwide grassroots movement to defend the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

Constitution scholar Okudaira Yasuhiro criticized those forces promoting the revision of the Constitution for trying to undermine the conscience of the peace-loving people, their culture, and human rights. He noted that behind the move is the U.S. Bush administration's policy of unilateralism.

Oe said, "Our Constitution was made by those people who wanted to show their regard for the people who died in Hiroshima, Okinawa, and many places throughout Asia. Abandoning Article 9 amounts to abandoning the ethics the Japanese people have maintained since the end of World War II. If that happens, we will not be able to explain how we can preserve our ethics."

"The advocates of constitutional changes want Japan to go to war. We must put up our resistance to it. I want to believe in Japan's people power that has successfully defended Article 9 for the last 59 years," Oe said.

Oda emphasized, "The renunciation of war is enshrined in the Japanese Constitution, but its significance is not limited to Japan but extends to the whole world."

Among the audience were many young people including students from Okinawa International University where a U.S. helicopter crashed in August.

At the opening of the speech assembly, about 40 students appeared on the stage and together read aloud the Preamble and Article 9: "We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our prosperity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution."

A young girl said, "Okinawa's Ground Battle and U.S. forces' accidents and crimes in Okinawa are telling us that we should not allow Japan to be turned into a war-fighting nation again."

The Article 9 Association has held speech assemblies in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Sendai, Sapporo, and Naha since it was founded in June.

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