Japan’s proposed constitutional changes

Revision of the 1947 U.S.-drafted Japanese constitution was one of the founding principles of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). However, strong public opposition to any change has constrained LDP leaders for the last 50 years – until now. A recent poll suggested that 58% of Japanese people support certain non-controversial changes such as improving the Japanese language (it was translated directly from English) but 62% still oppose amendment of Article 9 (the pacifist clause).

Last Friday, Koizumi’s LDP put forward a final draft of a new proposed constitution. According to LDP spokesmen, the draft is meant to give Japan’s military a firm legal basis and better reflect the new realities of the modern world. It also states that Japan can have a military both to defend itself and to play a greater role in global security, although overseas deployments would be limited to international cooperation.

With regard to Article 9, the draft kept intact the paragraph which says “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes”. But it cut out the paragraph which states “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained”.

Instead, the new draft says: “In order to secure peace and the independence of our country as well as the security of the state and the people, military forces for self-defence shall be maintained with the prime minister of the cabinet as the supreme commander and may engage in activities conducted in international cooperation to secure peace and security of the international community.”

However, in order to get the new constitution approved, the draft needs to be approved by two-thirds of the lawmakers in both houses of parliament, and then by a simple majority of voters in a national referendum.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 9 Comments

“…..shall be maintained with the prime minister of the cabinet as the supreme commander …..”

this kind of flexibility was also seen in PRC’s anti-secession law, and taiwan relation act of the USA/

October 31, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Hmm. It could be a bad sign, but at the moment it does really just seem to be writing up what has been in effect for several years now.

October 31, 2005 @ 12:35 am | Comment

With bird flu, Iraq, China, North Korea, and Iran in the headlines, isn’t this something that we will look back on and be like “Damn what were we doing when that change got underway?”. This whole militaristic sentiment has been growing for awhile and could have horrible consequences for the security of E. Asia.

October 31, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

JD’s right, the constitutional changes seem to merely reflect the current reality.

Nevertheless, it’s arguable that these changes would not have come about without the, at least passive, endorsement of the U.S. The U.S. has, for the last few years, been quietly pushing Japan to take on a more active military role and even scrap the straight-jacket Article 9 Clause.

The current realignment of the U.S.-Japan military alliance also relects this.

The U.S. is asking Japan to reassert itself as a bullwark to a militarily-stronger China.

October 31, 2005 @ 4:03 am | Comment

Before MAJ and BingFeng get in on this I’m going to have my say.

Japan is a peaceful nation with no interest in invading, occupying, or threatening any other country. Even if these changes are made, Japan will NOT be a threat to its neighbors.

What these changes are aimed at is allowing Japan to take part in international peacekeeping efforts, and to clarify the position of its defense force (Which is technically unconstitutional).

Unfortunately, these moves will also allow Washington to use Japanese soldiers to pad out its own ranks in the foney war on terror by pressuring Tokyo into supplying troops for so called peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Afganistan etc.

The Japanese people will not stomach any agressive moves from the government and the Japanese defense force will never move against its neighbors.

Article 9 has my full support.

1)日本国民は、正義と秩序を基調とする国際平和を誠実に希求し、国権の発動たる戦争と、武力による威嚇又は武力の行使は、国際紛争を解決する手段としては、永久にこれを放棄する。

2)前項の目的を達するため、陸海空軍その他の戦力は、これを保持しない。国の交戦権は、これを認めない。

1) The Japanese people, with the wish to promote international justice based on peace and order, eternally renounce the right to wage war and to use military force, or threat of force, as a means to determine international disputes.

2) In order to meet the purpose of the preceding clause, land, sea, and air forces, and other potential tools of war, will not be retained, and the Japan nation will no longer recognize the right of military aggression.

Article 9 subsection 1 and 2, The constitution of Japan

October 31, 2005 @ 5:03 am | Comment

ACB, that’s a good translation!
For comparison purposes, let’s look at article 29 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China

Article 29. The armed forces of the People’s Republic of China belong to the people. Their tasks are to strengthen national defence, resist aggression, defend the motherland, safeguard the people’s peaceful labour, participate in national reconstruction, and work hard to serve the people. The state strengthens the revolutionization, modernization and regularization of the armed forces in order to increase the national defence capability.

Nothing wrong there, but comparatively speaking, China’s the one that sounds aggressive.

October 31, 2005 @ 7:43 am | Comment

I’m not exactly sure why some people are getting tetchy. Japan has been peaceful for 60 years and is the only country in the region to have a 100% pacifist constitution. Everyone else reserves the right to beat the crap out of their neighbours at any time.

Also, the proposed changes will only modify Article 9 so that:

a) The JSDF is recognised rather than ignored.

b) Japan can easily deploy the JSDF on peacekeeping missions and protect its allies if they’re under fire.

Japan will still be the only such country in the region to have any restrictions on its foreign policy. We should praise that rather than cry “wolf” over a pragmatic alteration.

October 31, 2005 @ 9:24 am | Comment

ACB,

those text and translations are very good. thanks

i think people are worried about how the amendments intereact with the old texts. if they are under the 2 clauses you translated, there are probably not much problem.
but as you know, billion+ people are suspicious of japan, they are concerned that there will be further amendment. so it may help japan’s PR if there is also a clear statement that LDP won’t seek further amendment for so many years.

could you write up a complete the analysis of article 9 (and its amendment) when you find time?
this would help to promote mutual understanding.
we never got to see the whole picture ourselves. some quoted only the controversial text, some quoted the good old texts.

October 31, 2005 @ 11:06 am | Comment

ACB,

with all due respect, that’s not what the japanese are about.

The right wing nationalists is simply using the US to go against China. IN fact, both India and Jpaan would wish there owuld be a war between US and China. Because once it occurs, there wouldn’t be any real winners, except for the third party.

IN Japan now, the second to Koizumi’s THRONE, says that Asian comfort women do it because they love it. In other words, they say all those women that were raped by the Japs are willing participants. I don’t know about that — i think the Koreans will align themselves to the Chinese because they share this history and they know the truth to it.

The fact is, Japan needs resources, and it has none other than coal — eventually they’ll have to venture out to get them on eway or the other. It only admitted losing WWII to the Americans but not China, and hence, to them, Chinese are still an inferior race.

The only difference between Taiwan and China is that Taiwan doesn’t have the balls to recognize it. Heck, the Japs rape Taiwan for 40 years and the Taiwanese just bends over asking for more.

November 4, 2005 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

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