Bewahrung der Friedensverfassung

„Wir, das japanische Volk, handelnd durch unsere rechtmäßig gewählten Vertreter im nationalen Parlament, entschlossen für uns und unsere Nachkommen die Früchte friedlicher Zusammenarbeit mit allen Nationen und das Glück der Freiheit in unserem ganzen Lande zu sichern und nie wieder durch Handlungen der Regierung von den Gräueln eines Krieges heimgesucht zu werden, erklären hiermit, dass die souveräne Macht beim Volke ruht und setzen diese Verfassung fest.“

Art. 9, Abs. 1:

„In aufrichtigem Streben nach einem auf Gerechtigkeit und Ordnung gegründeten internationalen Frieden verzichtet das japanische Volk für alle Zeiten auf den Krieg als ein souveränes Recht der Nation und auf die Androhung oder Ausübung von Gewalt als Mittel zur Beilegung internationaler Streitigkeiten.“

Art. 9, Abs. 2:

„Um das Ziel des vorhergehenden Absatzes zu erreichen, werden keine Land-, See- und Luftstreitkräfte oder sonstige Kriegsmittel unterhalten. Ein Recht des Staates zur Kriegsführung wird nicht anerkannt.“


YAMAMOTO Toshimasa, Generalsekretär des NCCJ

Vortrag am 4. Juni 2007 in der Geschäftsstelle des EMS


Vor dem Kirchentag 2007 in Köln besuchte YAMAMOTO Toshi, der Generalsekretär des NCCJ, das Ev. Missionswerk in Südwestdeutschland. Er hielt einen sehr anregenden Vortrag über das aktuelle soziale und politische Engagement der Kirchen in Japan.

Social and Political Involvment of the Churches in Japan

First of all, I would like to thank Lutz Drescher and EMS people for their kind invitation to me to be part of this meeting. I feel very honored and happy to share my presentation with you.

I am also so grateful that I am given this opportunity to renew my friendships with old friends and meet new friends here in Stuttgart. As I sort of knew that I would be suffering from jet lag when I got here, I wrote my talk in the paper. So, allow me to read and follow my manuscript before we get into discussion.

Since I am in Germany, I would like to share with you some personal reflection upon my last visit to Germany.

About three years ago, when I was attending a conference in Germany, I had a chance to visit a church called "The Castle Church" in Wittenberg, Germany. The church is well known, so I do not need to explain about the historical significance of the Church. (as you all probably know, Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on its door in protest against the Catholic Church's practice of indulgences). As I went around the church building to the back, I was surprised to find a carving of pigs placed on the top of the outer wall. So I asked my German friend, "Why are the images of pigs up there on such a famous church?" The answer was, that they were made in the early 12th century as a symbol of contempt for the Jews. In those days, the churches in Germany called Jewish people "pigs", and treated them as such. In 1983, the 500th anniversary of Luther's birth, the building was going to be renovated, and the topic came up at the church as to whether or not the carving of the "pigs" should be destroyed. The decision of the church people was that it should remain just as it was so that people would not forget that shameful part of the churches' history which was the horrible discrimination against the Jews. I was rather shocked to learn that such a decision could be made. This would never have been done in Japan. The traditional Japanese way of dealing with the past, is, to either "put a lid on a scandal" and "sweep it under the carpet" or to "let bygones be bygones".

It is ironical and a pity that the Jewish people, who faced discrimination and oppression as well as having experienced a terrible holocaust, now turned out to have a Jewish government that now acts as oppressors toward the Palestinians. Not all Jews support the oppression , of course, as there are growing number who are against what the Israeli government is doing and are working for reconciliation and peace.

Nevertheless, the carving of the "pigs" serves as a powerful living reminder of the painful past of the German people. The "pigs" also suggest that to forget our sins may be an even greater sin than to commit them. Because what is forgotten cannot be healed and that which cannot be healed easily becomes the cause of greater evil. Forgotten Auschwitz creates Hiroshima. And forgotten Hiroshima will create another nuclear disaster. Our collective memory plays an important role in our sense of being here and now.

As you might have heard, in recent years, as a part of consolidating efforts by the Japanese government, all the laws such as those on the Hinomaru (" national flag "), Kimigayo (" national anthem " ) and wire tapping, and emergency legislation were set in place. In addition to the Diet's passing of the amendment to the Fundamental Law on Education, which is centered around patriotic education, the Japanese government has been in the process of changing the constitution, particularly targeting Article 9. The Diet on May 14, 2007, passed into law a controversial national referendum bill for constitutional amendments. Furthermore, along with this move, Japan has been sending the SDF (Self Defense Force) to Iraq as an established reality in order to convince the Japanese people to support the change of the constitution and to become a "country " which could initiate and wage war.

Of course, all kind of laws by themselves do not initiate a war. People's minds and hearts are required to support any war effort. Education usually plays an important role in patriotism. In Japan., there has been a big controversy about the textbook issue. One of the history textbooks for the Junior high school, which cleared the official screening of the Education Ministry, described very little about our wrongdoing in the past. Just to give you a few examples, the historical fact of the "comfort women " was completely deleted from the textbooks and the " Nanjing Massacre " is described as only the " Nanjing Incident." In 2001, 2005, thanks to the protests of citizen's group and churches and outside pressures from Korea and China, only 0.039% of the school had chosen this textbook. It was called a " victory of the sensible Japanese ". In a very dangerous move, this textbook is trying to close our eyes to past history and to beautify Japan's history of invading Asian countries.

Nationalism and Church
"Old Nationalism" -the historical background

In order to grasp the importance of the "old nationalism" in Japan, we need to go back about 136 years. The Meiji Restoration in 1868, which followed more than two hundred years of national seclusion, shook the whole society. European culture flooded the Japanese lands. The Japanese government thought it urgent to create national unity through the strong centralization of power which was supplemented by prestige. The 16-year-old Mutsuhito (Emperor Meiji) fulfilled this role and the modern emperor system came into being. The Meiji Japanese government carried out a number of policies under a powerful military influence but the first thing that they did was to inaugurate Shinto as the national religion. The emperor became the highest priest of the whole nation and the supreme commander of the imperial army and navy. The Meiji Government prompted the unity of Shinto and the State in order to establish its legitimacy and build loyalty. The emperor was considered to be a descendant of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) and "the living god" of Shinto. And, for the first time in the history of Japan, a provision on religious freedom of the people was part of the Constitution of the Great Empire of Japan in 1889. However, that freedom had to be "within the limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects" (Article 28), because the Emperor had the "Divine Imperial Sovereignty" as a descendant of Amaterasu Omikami, under the Constitution. The Imperial Constitution stipulated that the emperor was divine and inviolable. As some of you know well from the history, the Meiji government had more in mind than just the deifying of the emperor to unify the nation. They wanted to make the best use of the emperor to carry out their intentions to expand the Empire of Japan, which subsequently would lead to the invasion of many Asian countries and cause severe suffering as well. State Shinto in effect provided the basis for suppression of all opposition enabling ultra-nationalists to wage war. For example during the WWII, Japanese Christians were watched and prosecuted. The Religious Organizations Law of 1939 reflected the Imperial Constitution and Imperial Rescript on Education, which declared that Japan was ruled by a "god incarnate" of Shinto pedigree in "line of emperors unbroken for ages eternal." Christian churches were allowed to confess their faith if they showed loyalty to this emperor. Even so, the Japanese government was very suspicious of Christians and oppressed them in various ways. Even before the Kyodan (the United Church of Christ in Japan) was formed, there were a number of church leaders who accepted that the state religion of Shinto was a "super- religion" and revered the emperor but there were also some church leaders who did not support this belief and, subsequently, were arrested.

I would like to give an interesting example. Japanese pastors, who were being interrogated by the Japanese military police, were often asked this question: "Who is greater? Jesus Christ or the Emperor?" (Now if the pastor answered, "Jesus", the pastor would be taken to prison and tortured. If the pastor answered, "the Emperor", then the pastor would be mocked for not answering as a Christian pastor should. ) The questions asked could also be quite tricky such as "If Jesus and the Emperor were both drowning in a river at the same time, who would you save first?" (One clever pastor answered "Whoever is closet to me.")

To the later shame of many Christians, some church leaders even urged Christians in Korea and Taiwan, the Japanese colonies at that time , to accept shrine worship and this brought much suffering to the Christians in those countries. The Kyodan (the United Church of Christ in Japan) was formed during WWII by frocing all the Protestant denominations to join together as one group - the Kyodan - now this was not done in the spirit of ecumenism but because it made it easier for the Japanese government to control and watch the church if they were under one church body, the Kyodan. This newly formed Kyodan attempted to rationalize Japan's atrocities, by sending a letter to the Asian churches which interpreted Japan's military expansion as "historical progress" and "God's will. " It is regretable that the Kyodan, at the time, succumbed to pressure to write such a shameful letter. It wasn't until much later, in 1967, that the Kyodan, (which is now the largest Protestant denomination in Japan and also a member church of the NCC-J), issued a "Confession of Responsibility during World War 11" which stated that "we seek the mercy of God and ask the forgiveness of Asian neighbors for mistakes committed in the name of the Kyodan at the time of formation and during the war years."

Urgent issues-Japanese Peace Constitution

Since it came into effect on May 3, 1947, the Constitution, particularly the war-renouncing Article 9, had long been considered sacrosanct. However, following a series of proposals by business and political leaders,. the ruling LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) has made a draft of its amendment proposal in 2005, when it celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding. There are many points for discussion on constitutional revisions, but it is Article 9, the " war denouncing clause " that bears the most upon the future course of Japan. The LDP made no specific mention of it, but that article is exactly what the present Abe administration is aiming at .Clause 1 of Article 9 stipulates that the Japanese forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and renounce the use of force as means of settling international disputes. Clause 2 forbids the nation from possessing a military and the right of belligerency. It is widely pointed out that the article 9 has been accepted by Asians as Japan's promise to never again embark on military aggression overseas. It is the life insurance for Asians. Chalmer Johnson, a former professor at UC Berkeley in California, said in an interview about a new documentary titled " Japan's Peace Constitution ", that Article 9 is an apology to the Asians who suffered under Japanese militarism during WWII.

The Abe administration took a step forward to change the Japanese constitution, aiming for Article 9 to be incapacitated, which has been one of the biggest obstacles to accelerate the militarization of Japan. The military expenditure of Japan is equivalent to that of US, Russia and China and it is clear that Japan would become a threat to peace and security in Asia and the Pacific if Article 9 were eliminated.

Send us, God - for the realization of reconciliation and peace

This year marked the 62-year anniversary of the end of the World War II and the defeat of the Japanese Empire. For people in East Asia whose lands were invaded, occupied or colonized by Japan, it was the 62-year anniversary of their liberation and independence. After Japan's defeat, many member churches and Christian organizations of the NCC Japan confessed their sin of taking part in the war before God, repented, and asked forgiveness of God and their neighbors. We inscribed their past "memories of assaults" and what history had taught us in our memories, determined that we would never commit the same sin again, and started to walk a new path.

In the light of the above mentioned dangerous moves in Japan, we cannot remain as a passive spectator of this situation. . The Bible says, "As God has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21). And God sends the Holy Spirit as the defender and guides us to be reminded of what Jesus spoke to us. Jesus encourages us by saying, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John 14:27). We would like to be the ones to respond to this call and sending by God, saying, "Send us, God - for the realization of reconciliation and peace". We would like to follow up the work of the Gospel of reconciliation and peace that was done by Jesus throughout his life and participate in the work of God's mission. "Rise, let us be on our way." (John 14:31)

YAMAMOTO in der Stuttgarter Markuskirche

Fotos: Gisela Köllner

Artikel 9

Peaceboat Japan

Verfassung: alle Beiträge