The article nine of the constitution of Japan

(Submitted on May 16, 2012)

The first three pages of the original constitution which was promulgated in 1946.


As a result of the WWII defeat, Japan adopted a new constitution which became effective on May 3, 1947. One of the most important features of this constitution is the renunciation of war that comes under article 9. Many people would like to know: How did it originate? Why have there been such arguments for and against this article, especially after the creation of the Japanese Self Defense Forces as the off-spring of the Korean War? What course of action should we take then?  


The first part of article nine runs as follows: “….. renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” The second part follows as: “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained.” And finally the third part which stipulates that: “The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”  


It is said that the new constitution was largely initiated by the then General Headquarters (GHQ), of the Allied occupational forces in Japan, which was determined to wedge in policies to democratize Japan. So, article nine has to be understood from this perspective.


The irony of history once again popped up only three years thereafter; when the Korean War started in 1950, the GHQ jumped to set up the Japanese auxiliary police force (which later became the Self Defense Forces) to help defend Japan which had become an important logistics base for the allied forces sent to Korea.


This inevitably prompted a heated argument over article nine: whether the very existence of the Self Defense Forces does or does not infringe upon the constitution. The official interpretation by succeeding governments seems to have gained public support now: that our constitution recognizes the right of self defense, therefore the Self Defense Forces as an enforcing body.


The reality is that the Self Defense Forces are now widely accepted by the public on two factors basically: first they have become a historical fact after more than a half century of their establishment; and second they have shown their remarkable efforts and services during devastating natural disasters.


So, no more problems related to article nine? Not quite so. The major issue, as explained, lingers on. In this respect, I would like to propose, firstly, for an amendment of the constitution that will recognize the reality: the existence of the Self Defense Forces. Secondly, we should take a more active responsibility for maintaining regional peace and security, not as given as in the past decades, so that the concept of article nine will be further strengthened.  




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