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By Kenzo Fujisue

Keep Article 9

More than anyone, the Japanese know the horrors of war. Don’t let the politicians forget

Kenzo Fujisue is a Democratic Party of Japan member of the House of Councilors

“The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

This passage, from the second paragraph of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, is unique in the world. A number of other countries’ constitutions include a prohibition of war of aggression; however, only the Japanese ban war outright.

Regrettably, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi violated Article 9 when he deployed the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq last year. Yet even though this is an important issue, the Japanese have not extensively discussed constitutional revision and the country’s militarization. Through strict interpretation of Article 9, Japan should unconditionally withdraw all SDF troops from Iraq and avoid getting involved in military conflicts under any circumstances.

In the aftermath of World War II, Article 9 was incorporated into the Japanese Constitution to prevent such atrocities from arising again. Some 23 million citizens of Asia, 3 million of them Japanese, were killed during the war. The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima led many Japanese people to desire never to suffer the consequences of war again. Though drafted by the occupying US forces, Japanese citizens embraced Article 9 and, more importantly, a pacifist culture that remains strong today.

I, too, am a Japanese citizen who was greatly moved by my parents’ wartime experiences to support Article 9 and Japan’s pacifist culture. My mother described to me the beauty of the cloud of the Nagasaki nuclear bomb that she witnessed as a seven-year-old girl. “The shape of the cloud was round and its color violet,” she recalled. Then she told me that it was this violet beauty that cast a pall over several tens of thousands of civilians who perished that day. When I lived in Nagasaki, I visited the Peace Park and was shocked by the graphic exhibitions of citizens who were killed by the nuclear bombing.

My father also had a solemn experience during WWII. He was born and raised in Taiwan, and his parents were forced to leave behind their assets and livelihoods when immigrating to Japan following the war. Upon their arrival here, my father’s family built a small wooden hut by themselves, all the while on the brink of starvation. This experience weighed so heavily on my father that never spoke to me of it directly. However, he once brought me to the exact place where he built that hut. Twenty years had passed, and all that remained was a deserted grass field—not a single reminder of the hut to be found. My father stood there silently, looking solemnly at the empty field without turning my way for a single instant. Even now, I can vividly remember how he had his back toward me, not letting me see his face. Without having to say anything, my father clearly expressed the bitterness and hardship his family endured as a result of war.

Thanks to my parents’ experience, I learned to view war as the ultimate evil. That’s why I fully support Article 9, which prohibits Japan from both waging war and developing military forces for invasion, and the preface of the Constitution, which aspires to create a world of peace based on justice and order. Furthermore, I feel that we should convey my country’s priorities of the peace we kept for 60 years to our children.
Frankly, I feel we need Article 9 in order to maintain the status quo and avoid getting involved in any future wars. In the event that the Constitution is revised, the Japanese citizens must be consulted and their opinions reflected justly in any consequent reforms. The people’s consent is necessary to the preservation of fundamental human rights, pacifism and maintaining a legitimately sovereign nation.

Currently, policymakers within the Diet are debating the issue of constitutional revision. However, the people know little about these ever-changing issues and preliminary drafts. Japanese citizens must take responsibility and use their national voting rights to prevent constitutional revision, which threatens our current peaceful way of life. And since Japan’s diplomatic relations with its Asian neighbors are being strained, I say that we must engage not only our own people in a dialogue regarding constitutional revision, but also the citizens in neighboring countries.

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