On July 21, Japan will elect a new Upper House of its legislature. Several parties, led by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, have made revision of Japan’s Constitution a priority. This revision focuses on amendment of Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war as an instrument of policy. The intent is to allow further expansion of Japan’s military establishment and a revision of its mission beyond self-defense. If, as predicted, the Liberal Democratic Party and its allies win a large majority in a few weeks, a powerful check on regional military competition and a model policy for the rest of the world will be in jeopardy.
According to the Global Article 9 Campaign, “Despite constitutional restrictions, Japan has developed and gradually expanded its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to become one of the world’s top military spenders and one of the most advanced militaries in Asia. Yet, the existence of Article 9 – and the Japanese people’s support for its principles – have forced the government to maintain peace policies, including non-export of arms, a non-nuclear policy, and not deploying the SDF for active combat.” Any increase in the Japanese military’s capabilities and mission, not to mention removal of the prohibitions against exporting weapons, will heighten tensions across the Asia-Pacific Region and especially among Japan’s neighbors on the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, it is possible that an amendment will open the door to Japan’s acquiring nuclear weapons, although public opinion remains firmly anti-nuclear.
Article 9 does not simply help curb military spending in northeast Asia, it has served as a model alternative to proactive defense policies and expansionist military policies around the world for over 60 years. It is imperative that as many people as possible sign the petition addressed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before July 21. Please sign it and urge everyone you know to sign it as well.