Moves to revise the Japanese constitution and Article Nine

japan article 9 graphicJapan has not engaged in military action since the U.S. drafted a pacifist charter after its defeat in World War II, renouncing violence as a means of settling international disputes after the second world war. This month, Prime minister Shinzo Abe – in a nationally televised address – has called for a more collective approach to Japan’s national security and the end of a prohibition on overseas combat missions that would stretch the limits of its anti-war constitution.

He has selected a panel of experts to rule on this new interpretation of the constitution.

His views would have to be incorporated in new defence-related laws as well as guidelines covering the US-Japan military alliance, a process that could take years.

Although a majority of his party supports this move, the Buddhist-affiliated party Komeito, the smaller partner in the Liberal Democratic Party’s ruling bloc, is wary of the change.

japan academics

Save Constitutional Democracy Japan 2014 is a group, now numbering 670 academics, who have vowed to uphold the country’s postwar constitutional democracy

It was founded by about 50 academics from various fields, including sociology, economics, human science and physics. Earlier some members were active in a group called the Article 9 Association and other activities (

Jiro Yamaguchi, a professor at Hosei University, believes people distrust official promises that some restrictions on military deployments will remain – such as parliamentary oversight and a condition that Japan will use only the minimum necessary force: “These requirements can be interpreted however the government wants. It’s the same as actually amending the constitution. Abe says Japan is all about liberty, democracy and the rule of law, but I don’t think he understands his own words.”

The Japanese public has grown increasingly wary of the prime minister’s defence plans. A poll in May by NHK, the national public broadcaster, showed that 41% did not want the government to reinterpret the constitution with only 34% in favour.



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