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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 June 10 - 16  > Top court ruling on ‘Sunagawa case’ can’t be used to justify Japan’s use of collective self-defense right: lawyers
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2015 June 10 - 16 [POLITICS]

Top court ruling on ‘Sunagawa case’ can’t be used to justify Japan’s use of collective self-defense right: lawyers

June 13, 2015
The former defense counsel in the “Sunagawa incident” trial on June 12 released a statement criticizing Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Komura Masahiko for using the 1959 top court ruling to justify Japan’s use of the collective self-defense right and misleading the general public.

The lawyers’ group at a press conference held in Tokyo pointed out, “The Supreme Court ruling only indicated whether the stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan violates Article 9 of the Constitution or not. The ruling stated nothing about the collective self-defense right nor the use of such a right.” The government should withdraw the proposed war-legislation related bills without delay, it added.

Arai Akira, one of the lawyers, pointed out that Komura last year also used the Sunagawa ruling as grounds for allowing Japan to exercise the controversial right. He said, “I can’t understand why Komura is sticking so tenaciously to that court ruling. Maybe he is not sure about the legitimacy of the bills, and that’s why he cites the ruling.”

Another lawyer, Naito Isao noted the fact that U.S. official documents disclosed that Supreme Court chief justice Tanaka Kotaro at that time (who presided over the trial in the Sunagawa case) consulted with the U.S. side about the details of the judgement. “To employ the Sunagawa ruling, which was issued in an unjust manner, as the basis for Japan’s exercise of the collective self-defense right is illogical and unacceptable,” said Naito.


‘Sunagawa incident’

In 1957, during a public protest against the expansion of a U.S. military base located in Tokyo’s Sunagawa Town (currently Tachikawa City), seven protestors, including students, were arrested for entering the base premises and later indicted for being in violation of the Special Criminal Act attendant upon the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

In March 1959, the Tokyo District Court ruled the stationing of American troops as unconstitutional and acquitted the seven. The public prosecutors’ office directly appealed to the Supreme Court. In December, the top court overturned the district court ruling.

Past related articles:
> Limited use of right to collective self-defense will lead to unlimited use [April 10, 2014]
> U.S. ambassador pressed Japan’s top court to reject lower court ruling that U.S. forces in Japan are unconstitutional [May 11, 2008]
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