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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 16 - 22  > Changing constitutional interpretations will lead Japan to wars
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2007 May 16 - 22 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Changing constitutional interpretations will lead Japan to wars

May 20, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The government on May 18 held the first meeting of an advisory panel led by former Ambassador to the United States Yanai Shunji to consider ways for Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense that the Constitution prohibits.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo at the meeting stated, “It is important to enable the Japan-U.S. alliance to function more effectively,” and requested the panel to consider “what specifically Japan will do and what it will not.”

Abe appointed to the panel well-known advocates of a strengthened Japan-U.S. military alliance and constitutional revision. There is no doubt that Abe is attempting to loosen constitutional interpretations without restriction in advance of a constitutional revision.

The prime minister asked the panel to consider four specific scenarios that the Self-Defense Forces may be engaged in: fighting back when U.S. warships are attacked on high seas; intercepting missiles heading for the United States; use of force to rescue foreign troops with which the SDF is deployed; and providing logistic support to foreign forces that are fighting wars. The government has long maintained that the Constitution prohibits all these SDF activities.

Abe claims that under some circumstances, Japan may exercise the right of collective self-defense.

The call for Japan to be allowed to exercise the right of collective self-defense, however, is an argument that Japan can launch a preemptive attack against a third country in a war situation with the U.S. in order to defend the U.S. mainland and U.S. forces even though that country has not attacked Japan.

The use of force by Japan, which has renounced wars, to deal with international disputes that have nothing to do with “Japan’s self-defense” obviously goes against the first paragraph of Article 9.

The reason why Abe is rushing to change constitutional interpretations before the Constitution is actually revised is that he wants to immediately meet U.S. demands.

In 2000, Richard Armitage, who later became U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, in his first report on Japan-U.S. relations criticized Japan by stating, “Japan’s prohibition against collective self-defense is a constraint on alliance cooperation.” Since then, the U.S. government has put strong pressure on Japan for constitutional revision.

At a Japan-U.S. defense ministers meeting in May, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reportedly pressed Japan to enable its exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

It is shameful for the government, being subservient to the U.S., to trample on the Constitution as well as established government views in order to please the U.S. This amounts to throwing away Japan’s sovereignty.

Recent opinion polls show that public opposition to Abe’s plan to revise Article 9 is increasing. In a Kyodo News Agency survey, 62 percent of respondents expressed that they want to maintain the current constitutional interpretation on the prohibition of the right of collective self-defense.

Article 9 is a treasure for Asia as well as the rest of the world. Japan will lose the trust of the international community if Japan paves the way for waging wars by allowing it to exercise the right of collective self-defense.

There is an urgent need to increase movements to put an end to Japan’s extraordinary subservience to the U.S. and prevent the Constitution as well as the constitutional interpretations from being changed. - Akahata, May 20, 2007
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