2016: Local Responses to Attack on Article9

Die Verfassung Japans.  Artikel 9 der Friedensverfassung
Source:  The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 3, Feb. 2016

Local Responses to Prime Minister Abe's Attack on Article Nine and the Constitution

by Rikkyo University Institute of Peace and Community Studies


Introduction by the Rikkyo University Institute of Peace and Community Studies

The Abe administration's aim to further weaken the parameters of Article 9 by seeking legal grounds to engage Japan's military in collective self-defense activities sent Tokyo-based Japanese of all ages to the streets in protest this past summer. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered repeatedly in front of the National Diet Building and prime minister's residence to voice t h e i r o p p o s i t i o n t o t h i s t o d e m a n d , a s emphasized by Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), a politics based on Japan's postwar Constitution. With media focus on events that took place in the nation's capital and at the level of the state, local interests and opinion is sometimes overlooked. This article introduces translations of two opinion pieces published in two local Japanese newspapers, the Okinawa Taimusu (Okinawa Times), out of Naha, Okinawa, and the Kahoku Shinpō published in Sendai.

Both editorials focus on the Abe Cabinet's decision to revise Japan's security legislation to complete a process that has haunted Japanese governments since the first Iraq War in 1991, when Japan faced US derision for its support for the US-led coalition being limited to cash, but not soldiers ("boots on the ground"), to the military effort to drive Saddam Hussein's military out of Kuwait. Yet, as Ōno Akinori writes, the people of Okinawa feel neglected for a number of reasons. The only part of Japan to directly experience hand-to-hand combat in the Pacific War, an experience that devastated the islands and resulted in the death of more than one fourth of the population, they have been forced to shoulder an unreasonable burden in hosting U.S. troops ever since. While the possibility of Japanese forces returning to the battlefield would increase this burden, it has received little mention in the discussion surrounding the pending bill. Suzuki Mutō's contribution focuses on the rights of the people of a constitutional nation to be engaged in the process of decision making. Alluding to the disaster that his home prefecture experienced in the triple disaster of March 2011, he suggests that Prime Minister Abe should concentrate on responding to real disasters at hand rather than looking for potential disasters of the future far from Japan's shores.

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