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A Pacifist Constitution

A Pacifist Constitution
Highlights

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-'s long-held dream to change the pacifist constitution got a big boost this weekend as his conservative coalition...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's long-held dream to change the pacifist constitution got a big boost this weekend as his conservative coalition won a crucial two-thirds majority in a snap election. Nationalists like Abe dismiss the constitution as a humiliating relic imposed by US occupiers after Japan's defeat in World War II, while North Korea's recent firing of two missiles over the country in less than a month has focused minds on security.

But many Japanese feel a strong attachment to the constitution's peaceful ideals and changing it sits close to the bottom of their to-do list. Parties in favor of amending the U.S.-drafted charter won nearly 80 percent of the seats in Sunday’s lower house election, media counts showed. Amending the charter’s pacifist Article 9 would be hugely symbolic for Japan. Supporters see it as the foundation of post-war democracy but many conservatives view it as a humiliating imposition after Japan’s defeat in 1945, reports AFP.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is a clause in the national Constitution of Japan outlawing war as a means to settle international disputes involving the state. The Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947, following World War II. In its text, the state formally renounces the sovereign right of belligerency and aims at an international peace based on justice and order. The article also states that, to accomplish these aims, armed forces with war potential will not be maintained.

The official English translation of the article is: “ARTICLE 9. (1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, 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; (2) 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. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution not only forbids the use of force as a means to settling international disputes but also forbids Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force. Therefore, in strictly legal terms, the Self Defence Forces are not land, sea or air forces, but are extensions of the national police force. This has had broad implications for foreign, security and defence policy.

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