2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Grußworte


T. Yamamoto

Rev. Toshimasa YAMAMOTO

Generalsekretär des National Christian Council of Japan; Vorsitzender des Vorbereitungskomitees

Geleitwort zur englischen Dokumentation

Since coming into effect on May 3, 1947, the Japanese Constitution, particularly the war-renouncing Article 9, has long been considered sacrosanct. However, following a series of proposals by business and political leaders, the ruling LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) mapped out a draft of its amendment proposal in November 2005, when it celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding. There are many points that were discussed for revision but Article 9, the "war-renouncing clause" was the one targeted for change. The Diet, on May 14, 2007, passed into law a controversial national referendum bill for constitutional amendments. This law paved the way and now the changing of the constitution has become a real political goal with even parliamentary time being set aside for it. 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 a means of settling international disputes. Clause 2 forbids the nation from possessing a military force and denies the right of belligerency. Article 9 is the declaration of "nonviolence " by the nation.

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 like a "life insurance" for Asians. Chalmer Johnson, a former professor at UC Berkeley in California, said in an interview in a documentary titled "Japan's Peace Constitution," that Article 9 is an objective apology to the Asians who suffered under Japanese militarism during WWII. If we eliminate Article 9, as an objective reality, what we are left with is all these politicians' subjective apologies, which will lead to accelerate tensions and fears between Japan and Asia.

In the light of these dangerous moves in Japan, we cannot be passive spectators. Last year we called the religious community in Asia and the world to gather in Tokyo for an "Asia Inter-religious Conference Article 9 " in November, 2007. Responding to this call, about 40 religious leaders and church representatives from Asia as well as from other areas in the world participated. A total of 220 people from Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Japan attended. Following the conference, the Global Article 9 Conference organized by NGOs was held on May 4-6, 2008 in Makuhari, Japan. Article 9 was no longer limited to the Japanese Constitution but becoming a world-wide Article. As we keep this momentum going, we plan to have a follow-up working group meet to continue the work of the Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace in Asia. The first is to be held in Tokyo in October 2008.

We are very happy to present the speeches and the English translations of speeches from the conference in this report. We apologize for the delay of finalizing the report largely due to the translation work. Some of the speakers did not have written speeches so much time and effort went into transcribing the talks before translation. We apologize if there are some discrepancies. We would appreciate it very much if you could send us your comments and any critique that you may have after going through the report.

Last but not the least, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organizing committee members, co-sponsoring churches and organizations as well as to all the participants from near and far. Special thanks also go to all the staff of NCCJ (National Christian Council in Japan) for their dedicated effort to publish this report for you.
July, 2008

 

 


Kard.Sirayanagi

Kardinal Peter Seiichi SHIRAYANAGI
Co-chair; früher Erzbischof von Tokyo

OPENING GREETING

My name is Seiichi Shirayanagi from the Catholic Church. It is a great honor for me to be allowed to greet you at such an important conference.

By the way, upon my return from Rome yesterday, I caught a cold. I am a bit worried that my speech can spread my germs to all of you, but here is my speech, nonetheless.

I think that it is truly wonderful for people from different religions and countries to get together and discuss common concerns. I sincerely hope that we can deepen our mutual understanding through dialogue.

It has been said that in this modern day and age we are ruled by a "civilization of death". Everyday, newspapers and the television news inundates us with stories of murders and suicides without any regard for the sacredness of life. In addition, abortions have been legalized to carry out murders openly. Care for the elderly is deteriorating. Isn't this similar to the attitude that the Nazis in the past had toward those that they saw as useless? But it is war that makes the "civilization of death" advance more than anything else. We have had two major world wars during the past one hundred years. And so much blood was shed really for nothing. But after the wars ended, we have had new conflicts. Moreover, in the meantime, merciless genocides have been carried out with advanced weapons. As we see new weapons being produced to kill more people, it fills us with horror. In such a time as this, what must we do? I believe that the answer is Article 9.

We should not wage war but wage peace. Let us adventure forth not towards war but towards peace. This path is really the only path that gives light to the future. I believe that truly sincere and patient dialogue instead of conflict can give our future a better prospect only when people with a variety of views promote them. I sincerely hope that we have truly a wonderful outcome for our conference today. That concludes my brief message.

 


Y. Muranaka

Rev. Yusei MURANAKA

Co-chair; Tendaishu Buddhist Priest

OPENING GREETING

I would like to express my heartfelt welcome and deep gratitude to all for gathering here from afar as we convene the Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9. I hope we can reaffirm that a changing world, at the dawn of the 21st century, is opting for a path of mutual cooperation. Yet even as we gather, the Japanese government is attempting to continue its support of U.S military intervention with Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran by extending its fueling operations in the Indian Ocean. This policy should not be considered to reflect the will of the majority of people.

The moon probe Kaguya recently made the news with an unforgettable photo of the earth seen above the moon's surface. It depicts a beautiful earth, shining with vivid colors in an eternal space. One would assume the human race inhabits this earth to create a flourishing history and culture. But the reality is that humans have trained themselves to kill others and nations excel at strategies to oppress. Nature is being destroyed, and so is culture and civilization. When we look at the earth, it makes us realize that the prevention of global warming is an urgent task. Anyone can see that it is necessary for the international community to cooperate, and most of us hope that action will be taken to avoid a looming crisis.

As we consider the difficult issues we face, we should remember that things are always related and relative. A way must be found even for conflict elements to coexist. True peace is found in finding the right way to accommodate differences and in learning to create and support harmonious relationships.

Looking back, we have come to base our morality on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution in which "the people of Japan" "renounce war" as the basis of our morality. However, reality is such that efforts to move in direction have not fully matured yet. What is important is that we respect and protect this constitu¬tion in order to make "the renunciation of war" absolute. And we must spread this idea to all people of the world so they may embrace it. With that wish in mind, we have come to convene today's Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9.

Thank you for your attention.