Unterhauswahl 2012 in Japan
Security in Northeast Asia
Die "Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War" hat im Vorfeld der Wahl einen Einblick in die politische und gesellschaftliche Lage in Japan zusammengestellt. Die Wahl am 16.12.2012 ging, wie vorauszusehen war, sehr eindeutig für die alte Liberal-Demokratische Partei (LDP) aus, die seit September d.J. von ABE Shinzo geführt wird. Wir veröffentlichen diesen Bericht aus einem Newsletter von Peace Boat, Tokyo.
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War
JAPAN – Nuclear Free Now
A large scale international participatory event "Nuclear Free Now" will be held in Tokyo and Fukushima on December 15-16 to coincide with the IAEA/Japanese Government Ministerial Meeting on Nuclear Safety and the Japanese General Elections.
This event will include the second "Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World" following from the 11,500 person gathering held in Yokohama in January 2012.
See how you can participate (including online livecast) and support the event at this crucial time here!
NEWS FROM JAPAN – A Fork in the Road for the Country's Pacific Constitution
In the past few months, Japan has been experiencing political changes. In this evolving political landscape and current regional context, the debate over Japan's peace constitution has come back to the forefront of the political agenda.
Indeed, on November 16, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko dissolved the Lower House and called for the first general election of the Diet's Lower House since the earthquake and nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in power since 2009 is expected to lose seats in the upcoming elections (scheduled to take place on December 16), and there is a high possibility that the traditional mainstream conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) may come back into power.
ABE BACK IN POWER?
On September 26, 2012, key figure of Japan's ideological conservative right Abe Shinzo was re-elected as LDP president, thus making him it likely that hey may once again become Japan's prime minister in the upcoming elections.
During his past tenure in 2006-2007, Abe ardently pushed for the revision of war-renouncing Article 9 of Japan's Constitution. In the name of building a "strong Japan", his track record includes increasing defence spending, overseeing the creation of the Ministry of Defence, advocating for the re-interpretation of Article 9 to expend the mandates of Self-Defence Forces' missions and allow collective action, as well as, some will even say, encouraging the debate over Japan's acquiring nuclear weapons.
Under Abe's renewed leadership, the call to amend Article 9 of the Constitution is once again on the LDP electoral agenda. Abe has already made clear that should he come back into power, he would turn Japan's Self-Defense Force (SDF) into a full-fledged national army.
RISE OF NEW PARTIES
In parallel to Abe's comeback to politics, a large number of new political parties are emerging.
A particularly prominent new party is the Japan Restoration Party (Nihon Ishin no Kai), founded by former Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru. A TV personality and lawyer come politician, Hashimoto publicly stated that his party fully endorses Japan being able to exercise the right to collective self-defense and he has qualified Japan's national three non-nuclear principles (which forbid Japan to manufacture, possess or introduce nuclear weapons into its territory) as being of an "empty shell."
The party's new president, Ishihara Shintaro, is an extreme rightist who has made countless insulting remarks against China, other Asian neighbors, women, disabled people and minorities throughout his service as Tokyo Governor for more than 13 years.
According to an Asahi Shimbun recent survey, Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Party is expected to become Japan's third party in the upcoming elections, after the LDP and the DPJ.
IMPACT ON JAPAN'S NEIGHBORS
Ishihara, Hashimoto and Abe tend to share the similar vision of a "strong Japan" playing a leadership role in Asia.
In light of the current political drift to the right and rising nationalism, many in Japan have expressed concerns at this increasingly hawkish rhetoric and the risk it poses to destabilize regional peace.
Indeed, offensive remarks by right-wing politicians risk exacerbating already tense regional equations with China and South Korea. At the same time, territorial disputes with China (over the Senkaku/Diaoyu/Daiaoyutai) and with South Korea (over Dokdo/Takeshima Island) have brought the issue of national security into the spotlight within the political debate in Japan. In a vicious circle, regional tensions and nationalism have tended to fuel each other.
A SLOW DRIFT
It is important to note that this current trend does not represent a sudden change. Although Japan has resisted US pressure to become a military regional power, the rise of China has led the government (even under a DPJ administration) to take several significant steps challenging the country's longstanding pacifism.
In addition to its controversial refueling operations in the Indian Ocean and its anti-piracy mission in the water off Somalia, Japan has recently started providing military aid abroad, in the form of military training for disaster relief and engineering, notably in Cambodia and East Timor. It has also conducted a growing number of joint military exercises in the Asia-Pacific region and in general, increasingly flexed its muscles in terms of national security strategy.
Yet, so far, Japanese public opinion has in its majority resisted efforts to amend the country's pacifist constitution. Although some politicians are deploying efforts to reinterpret, if not get rid of Article 9, others have made their support for the peace clause and what it stands for clear. For instance, junior coalition party New Komeito is opposed to transforming SDF into a regular military. Likewise, the Social Democratic Party announced it will "become a bulwark that stems the tide toward revising the Constitution."
For his part, current DPJ Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has sent ambivalent signals on the issue. On the one hand, he is known to consider Japan's Self-Defence Forces (SDF) a military force and has indicated, notably through the panel of experts he set up and headed under the National Policy Unit last July, that he favors re-interpreting Article 9 so as to authorize Japan to exercise what he considers its right to collective self-defense. On the other hand, he has made clear his government has no plans to change the peace clause's interpretation. Indeed, most of DPJ's members are opposed to expanding SDF's status and its role and activities abroad, and the party has taken a stance against revising Article 9.
The debate over Article 9 of the Constitution and generally on Japan as a pacific country has become a key issue in the current electoral campaign and promises to remain so in the political agenda for the months to come.
Read the Japan Times' Editorial warning against the "LDP Hawkish Stance"
Read a New York Times article on the militarization Japan's national security strategy.
More on "What an Abe prime ministership would mean for Japan" in the East Asia Forum
Read an Asahi Shimbun opinion piece "A worrisome tilt to the right in mainstream politics"
NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Towards a Humanitarian-based Approach to Disarmament
On October 22, a group of 35 states made a joint statement calling on "all states [to] intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons." The statement was delivered by Swiss Ambassador Benno Laggner in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly that deals with disarmament issues. It highlighted the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons", as well as its implications in terms of international humanitarian law, and declared that the only way to avoid those was "the total,irreversible and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons."
Over recent months, the international debate on nuclear disarmament, which has traditionally focused on military and technical aspects, is being increasingly reframed in terms of humanitarian considerations, notably the human and environmental costs, as well as the humanitarian consequences that any use of nuclear weapons would have.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has made a significant contribution to this debate. In April 2010, the ICRC's President made an appeal urging all states to pay greater attention to the human costs of nuclear weapons and the implications of their use in terms of international humanitarian law. This was followed by a resolution adopted in November 2011 by the Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross, which again spoke of the "destructive power of nuclear weapons, the unspeakable human suffering they cause, the difficulty of controlling their effects in space and time, [and] the threat they pose to the environment and to future generations..."
Since then, this humanitarian-based approach to nuclear disarmament has gained political traction. In May 2012, during the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting held in Vienna, Ambassador Laggner made a statement on behalf of 16countries similar to that of this past October.
Japan, however, despite being the only country to have been attacked by nuclear weapons and in spite of its peace constitution, declined to support the move, arguing that parts of the statement were not in line with Japan's national security policy that states that "as long as nuclear weapons exist, the extended deterrence provided by the United States, with nuclear deterrent as a vital element, will be indispensable." Following a roundtable with high officials in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Japan's nuclear disarmament policy, Japanese NGOs issued a statement highlighting the contradictions of government policies regarding nuclear weapons and calling for a fundamental change in policy.
Read a report of the roundtable between NGOs and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the statement issued by Japanese CSOs here.
For more about Japan's decision not to adhere to the initiative read an opinion piece in the Japan Times by Japanese Upper House member Hamada Masayoshi.
The role of CSOs
The 35-nation statement highlighted the "crucial role" civil society has to play in raising awareness about the devastating humanitarian consequences as well as the critical [international humanitarian law] implications of nuclear weapons."
Indeed, many disarmament groups have joined forces to put forward such humanitarian approach to nuclear weapons abolition. In recent months NGOs have organised many activities to highlight this shift.
In August, some 100 nuclear disarmament campaigners from 25 countries took part in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) meeting held in Hiroshima. At the event, ICAN launched a new publication detailing the "catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons on our health, societies and the environment".
During UN General Assembly First Committee meetings in October, several CSO groups submitted a joint statement, as well as mobilized to encourage their governments to support the 35-country statement.
Two significant events were also held in October alongside the First Committee meetings.
On October 23, Switzerland and ICAN co-hosted a briefing on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, including nuclear famine and the medical consequences of a nuclear attack. Over 100 people attended this event, including NGO representatives and diplomats representing 35 governments, including three from nuclear weapon-states.
In addition, from October 19-20, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Human Rights Watch convened a Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Summit in New York. The event brought together 90 representatives from 30 NGOs and coalitions working in a variety of fields (from nuclear disarmament activists to conventional weapons and Arms Trade Treaty campaigners) with the shared objective of protecting civilians from the harmful effects of armed violence.
The outcome document of the conference called for "strong disarmament initiatives driven by humanitarian concerns to strengthen international law and protect civilians." A delegation of civil society representatives delivered the communiqué to the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Angela Kane.
"All governments should step up their efforts to advance humanitarian disarmament and improve protection of civilians from the harmful effects of armed violence," said Steve Goose, Arms Director at Human Rights Watch. "To succeed in this objective, civil society needs to be allowed to play a substantive role in the process."
Governmental and civil society efforts to focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons will be highlighted at upcoming conferences in March 2013. The Norwegian Government has announced that it will host a meeting in Oslo on March 4-5, 2013, to "highlight different aspects of nuclear weapons as a humanitarian problem." ICAN has been invited to be the civil society partner for this conference, and will convene a Civil Society Humanitarian Summit in Oslo as well on March 2-3, immediately before the intergovernmental conference. This will feature inspiring speeches, informative workshops, heated discussions, and much more. ICAN is calling on citizens around the world to "save the date" and follow their campaign online here.
Read more on the Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Summit here.
HUMAN RIGHT TO PEACE - One Step Closer to the Adoption of a Universal Declaration
On July 5, 2012, after months of intensive negotiations, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 20/15, by which the HRC "establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate of progressively negotiating a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace..."
34 member-states voted in favor, 12 abstained and the US voted against it. It is interesting to note that the 12 abstentions are from Western and Eastern European countries. According to the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (AEDIDH), this is an encouraging development, given these countries' track records of casting negative votes on this subject in the General Assembly, the former Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Council since 1985. Their abstention could thus be interpreted as a sign of their increasing engagement in the negotiation process towards a Declaration on the Right to Peace, which will start at the beginning of 2013.
The newly established Open Ended Working Group on the Right to Peace (OEWG) will have the mandate of "progressively negotiating a draft United Nations declaration on the right to peace, on the basis of the draft submitted by the Advisory Committee, and without prejudging relevant past, present and future views and proposals".
Resolution 20/15 praises "the important work being carried out by civil society organizations for the promotion of the right to peace and their contribution to the development of this issue" and invites them "to contribute actively and constructively to the work of the working group".
In another landmark move in the recognition of the Human Right to Peace as a norm, the president of the 66th UN General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, recognized the need to codify the human right to peace. In his opening statement to the General Assembly High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace on September 14, 2012, he acknowledged "the human right to peace needs to be established as an autonomous right by the international community. Every one of us must be a true believer in peace and non-violence, and practice what we profess."
On September 21, on the occasion of the International Day of Peace, the Foundation Peace without Borders and the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law launched a video, called "Peace is a human right". With the support of well-known artists, musicians, actors, actresses and sportsmen from Europe, the US and Latin America, the video (screened in 12 languages) intends to give support to the efforts towards the recognition of the human right to peace within the United Nations.
Along with the video was launched a campaign for signatures in support of the declaration drafting process within the United Nations, including the Open Ended Working Group on the Right to peace. Signed by more than 13.000 citizens worldwide, the petition will be submitted to the President of the UN General Assembly, requesting the world body to adopt a Universal Declaration on the Human Right to Peace.
Campaigners for the codification of the human right to peace expect the OEWG to hold its first session in Geneva in March 2013 and submit a progress report to the Human Rights Council by June 2013. Thus, they hope the General Assembly will adopt the Universal Declaration of the Human Right to Peace by the fall of 2015.
The Global Article 9 Campaign encourages you to support the human right to peace and its final recognition in the United Nations by signing the petition online here.
NEW CAMPAIGN - Breaking the Nuclear Chain: from victim to actor
Breaking the Nuclear Chain is a new campaign that aims to give the debate on the consequences of the nuclear chain a human face. The campaign will inform, motivate and activate people to help us prevent the looming humanitarian catastrophe represented by nuclear energy in all its forms- from uranium mining, to power, to weapons to nuclear waste.
The campaign was launched on October 22, 2012 in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security session. It is an initiative of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), IKV Pax Christi and Peace Boat.
Breaking the Nuclear Chain seeks to make people see beyond the abstract discussions about nuclear issues, and learn directly from people's own experience what the true issues are. The overall objectives of the campaign are to:
Educate people that nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and nuclear energy are all tied together.
Convince people – Governments and populations – of the urgency to create a nuclear free world.
Begin the process by calling for the immediate start of negotiations to make nuclear weapons illegal for everyone, setting the stage for future negotiated processes to end the nuclear legacy.
To do so, Breaking the Nuclear Chain puts an emphasis on people and brings together those who have been affected by nuclear weapons, uranium mining, nuclear exports, nuclear power and nuclear waste; as well as those who are working to break this chain. It collects testimonies of affected people and makes them available to a broad audience. It also provides facts & figures about all aspects of the nuclear chain.
A series of webinars is being held to make information about different components of and considerations related to the nuclear chain easily accessible. Experts from around the world share their knowledge and recommendations through videos and a discussion forum.
The webinars are divided into four themes – 1) nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon tests; 2) uranium mining; 3) radioactive waste; and 4) nuclear energy. Each of these sessions include: an introduction to the topic; information on the humanitarian consequences; the link with humanitarian law; and what could/should be done to break the nuclear chain.
As a way to engage new people in the effort to eliminate the nuclear threat, the campaign is hosting a competition from November 1, 2012 to March 17, 2013, the winner of which will be flown to Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2013 to present, as part of a team, community-developed recommendations to the UN Non Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee meeting, and lobby diplomats on the basis of these recommendations.
Participants are encouraged to upload videos, write blogs, contribute to different activities of the campaign or become involved with an organization working on the nuclear chain. The winner will be determined through responses of other participants in the campaign – e.g. 'likes' to blogs or videos posted by the candidate on social media sites – and the judgment of the organizing team behind the campaign.
DISARMAMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT - Opportunity Costs: Military Spending and the UN Development Agenda
The International Peace Bureau has released a new Position Paper entitled Opportunity Costs: Military Spending and the UN's Development Agenda. In this excellent paper, co-authors Colin Archer and Annette Willi make the case that military spending should be taken into consideration in the debate now under way on the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda (following on from the Millennium Development Goals). In IPB's view, militarization is a significant factor in the sustainable development equation, often undermining the security of citizens. At the same time, the massive resources devoted to the military sector could - if even a small portion were reallocated - make a major contribution to meeting the challenges of mass poverty, unemployment and climate change.
Download the full report here.
NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED - Japan Nuclear Mistake
This year has seen a lot of concern about the confrontation between China and Japan over a group of islets in the East China Sea. Less attention, though, is being paid to what may be a more destabilizing development: next year Japan plans to bring its long-delayed Rokkasho reprocessing plant online, which could extract as much as eight tons of weapons-usable plutonium from spent reactor fuel a year, enough for nearly 1,000 warheads. That would add to Japan's existing stockpile of 44 tons, 9 of which are stored in domestic facilities.
Japan has repeatedly vowed never to develop nuclear weapons, and there's no reason to doubt that now. But there's more to worry about: reprocessing not only creates a tempting target for terrorists, it also sets a precedent for countries around the world to follow suit — and pushes the world toward rampant nuclear proliferation.
Read the full Op-Ed by Frank N. von Hippel and Masafumi Takubo here.