Keidanren proposes constitutional revision

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) for the first time has called for the Constitution to be rewritten to replace the war-renouncing provision (Article 9) with one allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense.

This was in a Keidanren position paper published by its chairman Okuda Hiroshi (Toyota Motor Co. chairman) on January 18.

Keidanren argues that Japan's continued rejection of the right of collective self-defense will mean that Japan cannot support its alliance partner's activities. It calls for Article 9 to be changed so that Japan can take part in U.S. wars abroad. It also calls for allowing the Self-Defense Forces to exercise, in the event of an emergency, the right of collective self-defense even under the present Constitution.

As regards paragraph 2 of Article 9 banning Japan from arming itself, Keidanren says that this "clearly separates Japan from the present state of world affairs," and calls for an explicit constitutional provision that Japan may possess the SDF.

Nippon Keidanren also calls for easing regulations under Article 96 that require a two-thirds majority for each House to approve constitutional amendments and for a law to be enacted as soon as possible for a special referendum.

Similar proposals were made by two other major business organizations, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) in April 2003, and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in December 2004.

The January 19 issue of Akahata reported that Keidanren used to refrain from directly calling for a constitutional review but has now changed its policy following the SDF dispatch to Iraq to meet U.S. demands.

With this proposal, Keidanren plans to include the issue of the Constitution in the rating of political parties which determines the amount of corporate donations given to them.

However, a majority of the people are not in favor of revising Article 9. In Asia, in which Japanese businesses are increasing activities, there is a major movement for an "Asia without war." The Beijing Declaration adopted by the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (September 2004) called for establishing a peaceful order based on the United Nations Charter.

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), ASEAN's 'peace constitution', covers 3.3 billion people, half the world's population.

A Japanese business leader stressed that "Japan's postwar economic development has been made possible by Article 9 because it provided the basis of the world's trust in Japan.

Business circles' proposals for a constitutional amendment will contradict the world's call for peace, and undermine postwar international trust in Japan. Keidanren's proposal will only demolish the very basis of Japan's economic activities in the world. (end)

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