Okay, I’m gonna make it clear.
The Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. I would like all Japanese people to have their own opinion on it by reading this essay. The following is my individual attitude for the Article 9; therefore I would like you to examine both positive and negative views by well-balanced ways.
Precisely, the Constitution of Japan was promulgated as a revision of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. In fact, it was not based on the draft which is written by Japanese person. The person who drew up the draft was Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. He was the top of the General Headquarters (GHQ), which ruled Japan from 1945 to 1952. McArthur himself deeply regretted the clause of the Article 9 until his death because it fell to the United States to pay expense for security of Japan. Furthermore, Japan did not have its sovereign power when this Constitution was established. Treaty of Peace with Japan, also known as Treaty of San Francisco, came into effect in 1952 while this Constitution was promulgated in 1946. Yes, from 1946 to 1952, Japan had the Constitution but did not have sovereignty. Under such exceptional circumstances, can this Constitution be regarded as a legitimate law? It needs to be revised without doubt.
[Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution]
(1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
Thus, Section 1 manifests abandonment of war and Section 2 shows the concrete contents. Namely, “We do not have forces and right to make war.”
First of all, I will talk about the Section 1. This section is similar to the Article 2, Section 4 of the Charter of the United Nations. You might think I do not have to write this, but I am going to cite it for reference.
[Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations]
(4) All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
What I would like you to realize here is that the countries which have peace principle is not a few countries including Japan. Technically, it is right to say that all 193 signatories of the United Nations are required to make peace by this Charter. The number of the countries which include any clause for peace in their Constitution is even around 150. Therefore, Japanese people should quit easily thinking that the Japanese Constitution is special and Japan believes peace much more than any other countries. At least concerning the Section 1, this is common wording around the world.
One of the wordings which are often brought up as a topic in the Section 1 is that “as means of settling international disputes.” International precedent defines this wording as aggressive war, that is to say, this wording does not include war for self-defence and sanctions. For instance, any foreign countries such as China or North Korea (DPRK) attack Japan, Japanese have to defend themselves. Another instance, Japan can make war against nations or terrorist organisation such as China, DPRK and al-Qaeda which violate peace in the international society. This Constitution originally admits these rights according to international common sense of the international laws. However, some Japanese regard this wording as any war including self-defence because they think the Japanese Constitution is fucking special. These people make me nuts, I have to admit, because they know nothing about the international relations and seem that they have nothing to save. I will describe my opinion later.
This explanation might only confuse you, but this wording typically modifies both “war as a sovereign right of the nation” and “the threat or use of force” which means “Japan renounces war for self-defence and the use of force for self-defence.” It does not mean “Japan renounces war and the use of force for self-defence,” in other words, what Japan can execute is not only the use of force, but also war if it is for self-defence. Incidentally, the difference between war and the use of force is that “war” means the conflict between nations which accomplished formal procedure given on the international laws (e.g. declaration of war) and “the use of force” means the conflict between nations or a nation and terrorist organisations or rebellious troops which does not accomplished formal procedure.
Basically, sanction war is declared when the United Nations Security Council resolves upon starting (e.g. the Gulf War), however, Iraq War was made with the United States’ own judgement which led into the worldwide controversy. The number of the excuses for the outbreak of war is like infinite if you invent them like Iraq War, and it is stupid that the Security Council can decide everything. Precisely, if you ask why these countries have such a big final say, I will say there is no reason. They only won the Second World War. In a way, the United Kingdom lost to Japan and France lost to Germany. For these countries, it matters that the fact that they were on the side of the United Nations is important, but it does not matter if they lost partly. Anyway, since sanction war is up to large countries’ pleasure, the definition is obscure. You cannot designate the difference between sanction war and aggressive war with accuracy. Japanese government’s official opinion denies involvement in sanction war, and we can never jeopardize the lives of members of Japanese Self-Defence Force (JSDF). On this point, the wording “as means of settling international disputes” should define the kind of war more concretely.
The right to defend themselves is guaranteed to all the signatories by the article 51 of the UN Charter. Collective Self-Defence Rights which is often arisen in Japan is exhibited.
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
It is a long and profound clause, let it simplify. In short, “you can defend yourself if you get attacked, wait for the Security Council’s help. But you have to report, huh? By the way, the Security Council is nothing to do with what you did for self-defence.” Is there any profit if you abandon the rights given on the UN Charter? Shouting “No weapons!” is excellent, but it is nonsense to start it by yourself alone. No one would follow you and your action would only lead armed neighbours to begin blackmail. International relations are controlled by concessions and conflicts instead of obligation and humanity. Disparity between an ideal and reality is large.
Nevertheless, I am not positive about exercise of the collective self-defence. As I mentioned before, it will not motivate you that the United States drags you and makes you fight against the “enemy” you are not related to. There might be an opinion that “Collective self-defence right is just a right, not duty. Therefore you do not have to go to war” but this is lacking reality. During the Gulf War, Japan was repeatedly criticized that “Why don’t you dispatch troops, you only pay money!” and then Japan established the Act on Cooperation for PKO. Thus, Japan would dispatch JSDF if the world (or the United States) lobbies for it. However, it is the fact that denying only collective self-defence cannot be overlooked by the international credibility. Present Japan is like “If Japan is attacked, the United States will save us. If the United States is attacked? Um, the Article 9 of the Constitution does not allow us collective self-defence, so…” This is very uncommon situation that such an economic power cannot even save alliance. Of course I do not want to die because of the United States, but defending the United States means the key of defending Japan itself. The existing Constitution does not have a mere word “self-defence,” so it is necessary to clearly show it.
Some insane Japanese people insist that Japan cannot execute war even if it was necessary to defend itself and I find those people idiotic. They say “When the enemy comes? Run! Run for your lives!” in deadly serious. Don’t they have something to save? No normal people want war. Those who make war are only weapon traders and crazy politicians. Yes, even I would like to go sightseeing in Palestine lazily with empty head and have fun. But, if any foreign power landed Japan to invade, I will definitely take a rifle. For beloved people, hometown, tradition and culture. In contrast, what is the reason why a person does not take his gun? “I don’t want to die.” “I don’t want to kill.” It would be like this. Also, some might think that “I’d be killed rather than kill.” That’s right. I never want to die nor do I want to kill anyone. I can understand the opinion that those who killed a person will be tortured by guilt for murder as long as they live; therefore it is better to be killed than to kill.
But wait. This is not your individual problem. No matter how strong you wish not to die, tradition and culture which are formed in cradle of Japan will be destroyed and fellow citizens who tried to save them will be killed. Can you continue having such selfishness? Once you are born Japanese, you have responsibility to save your own country. Saving your country directly means saving your people and hometown. During the Second World War, so many people died saying “For the sake of country,” however, how many people really died only because of Japanese Emperor, Tenno? Didn’t they take a look at a picture and recall family in hometown in every break? I would like you to think about what is saving your country again.
I think I wrote too much on mere six words. But now you know my opinion on this wording by and large. Briefly, the wording “as means of settling international disputes” should show what kind of means more specifically like “except means of self-defence.”
There is one more thing I cannot help but to point out. It is “the threat of force.” The wording “threat” means the action right before an attack. For instance, getting the sights of missiles, firing guns with intentionally missed sights (warning shot), warning that “if you do not leave, we’ll shoot.” These actions are forbidden by the Article 2, Section 4 of UN Charter, however, Chinese navy’s frigate “Lianyungang” radiated fire-control radar to Japanese escort vessel “Yuudachi” in January 2013 and Chinese frigate “Wenzhou” radiated it to Japanese patrol helicopter “SH-60” in February. Fire-control radar is one of the systems which make shooting faster and accurate, and to radiate this kind of radar is completely same as to “lock on.” Therefore, radiating fire-control radar can be considered as a “threat of force,” however, it is made ambiguous since there has been no precedent. Although China is one of the permanent members of the Security Council, it violates the UN Charter. So anyway the UN is a bunch of bullsh…
No, this is not the right thing to discuss here. The problem is that how to react when Japan is threatened like this. The Article 51 of UN Charter only provides “the use of force,” therefore it is common to refer to the judgment by International Court of Justice (ICJ). Citation below is from the 249th paragraph of the “Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua” by ICJ in 1986.
[Judgment of 27 June 1986]
para. 249 “…The acts of which Nicaragua is accused, even assuming them to have been established and imputable to that State, could only have justified proportionate counter-measures on the part of the State which had been the victim of these acts, namely El Salvador, Honduras or Costa Rica…”
This means you can fight back within “proportionate counter-measures” when you are threatened by force. It is often said that “international relations are like ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’” and this judgment shows the principle with reality. As to the Japanese Constitution, it is obviously able for Japan to take “proportionate counter-measures” since the Constitution admits the use of force to defend itself. On the other hand, Japanese escorts did nothing when they are radiated fire-control radar by Chinese navy. It may be one of what is called “the high-level political decisions,” but this implies that Japan abandoned rights to take “proportionate counter-measures” against foreign intimidation at this time. Ultimately, Japanese people should reflect whether this decision was right or wrong. It was right decision because Japan did not provoked China too much, or it was wrong decision because Japan only gave China another reason to treat Japan as a coward…
This is enough for the Section 1. The Section 2, we are going to examine now, is the most significant part of Article 9 although it is short. Unlike the Section 1, this section defines what the country should be. Readers might forget what exactly the Section 2 was due to this long essay, I will cite it again here.
(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
The wording “to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph” is often under argument. The question is: what is “the aim of the preceding paragraph?” There are two theories about its interpretation. One is the aim of “aspiring sincerely to an international peace,” the other is the aim of renouncing “war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Those who support the former interpretation consider the wording that Japan abandoned all the force including self-defence force, and those who support the latter interpretation consider the wording that Japan abandoned any force which can be related to aggressive war. As I mentioned before, it is crazy to renounce right to self-defend, therefore the latter interpretation is now common theory. However, this wording is indeed misleading and confusing. The wording on the Constitution needs to positively show what the aim is rather than try to display the aim by such an obscure phrase.
Additionally, the wording “war potential” is ambiguous, too. Even self-defence force could make war, and the wording “extra self-defence power” which is present Japanese government’s opinion too much differs from the original wording on the Constitution. Japanese government describes “extra self-defence power” as a force which is beyond the level of the minimum force for self-defence. They say this is not “war potential.” Isn’t it unnatural? Moreover, Japanese government denies that JSDF is the army or force, insisting it is a group or team. Japanese word for JSDF is “Jieitai (自衛隊)” and “tai (隊)” literally means a group or team. Japanese word for “army,” “force,” or “military” is “gun (軍)” and Japanese government, JSDF itself, or Japanese Ministry of Defense never use these terms and admit that JSDF is the force of Japan although an “F” of JSDF stands for “forces.” The Article 43, Section 1 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions defines the requirements for the armed forces, so let me cite it.
1. The armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or an authority not recognized by an adverse Party. Such armed forces shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, ‘inter alia’, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.
Simplified this clause, it says “Armed force is a group with weapons which is led by somebody who is responsible for what his man did. It is goddamn armed force whatever the enemy thinks. Anyway obey the law.” Yes, according to the Protocol I, JSDF is definitely the force of Japan. Here is the Section 2:
2. Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict (other than medical personnel and chaplains covered by Article 33 of the Third Convention) are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities.
Thus, the members of JSDF are treated as combatant as well as troops of other forces under the international laws. It is unnatural to say that JSDF is not “forces” although it maintains the same rights as the forces in other countries. The wording “war potential” should be changed to “self-defence power” to show the substance more exactly.
“The right of belligerency,” this is another mysterious wording. The word “belligerency” means “the state of being at war or in an armed conflict.” Meanwhile, this wording is written as “kousen-ken (交戦権)” in Japanese. “Kousen (交戦)” means “warfare” and “ken (権)” means “rights.” Therefore, if you read this wording in English, you would understand it as the rights belligerency have. However, if you read this wording in original Japanese language, it is more natural for you to understand it as the right to execute war. The rights belligerency has is as follows: kill and injure hostile soldiers, destroy hostile weapons, intern captive soldiers, and inspect or capture vessels. According to the Constitution, this right is not recognized, whatever the meaning of this wording. War has begun, but you cannot punch hostile soldiers or kick their tanks, then you are killed with one shot. What the hell. Usually, a sovereign nations have right to make war against a foreign countries which intends to invade the nation, and it is unbelievable to deny it. Japanese Ministry of Defence says that “the right of belligerency” is different from “the right to defend itself” as the last resort, however, it can sound like you cannot even self-defend. This wording should be fearlessly deleted.
The above explained how many unnatural and excessive interpretations are on the Article 9, Section 2. Obeying the original form could possibly manage this problem, better still, showing what is admitted instead of what is forbidden. To illustrate, how about this draft:
(1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force except means of self-defence.
(2) Japan maintains the minimum amount of land, sea, air, and other forces which is indispensable for defence of Japanese people and land against foreign countries.
Here is a Japanese version:
Section 1 denies forces other than self-defence, that is to say, the surplus forces which can be enable to invade other countries, and Section 2 defines self-defence power and declares its possession. At least, there seem fewer ambiguities than that on the present Constitution. What is your opinion?
Essentially, constitutions should be revised with the era. Yet, the Constitution of Japan is one of the symbols of entrenched clauses because it has never revised since its promulgation in 1946. Actually, this is the 14th oldest Constitution in the world and the rest 13 of constitutions are under revision debate. Since the balance of power which has been led by the United States is collapsing today, Japan must do something for China, which is seriously trying to invade Senkaku Islands (also known as Diaoyu or Pinnacle Islands). In addition, the Korean War has not ended even now—it is under a ceasefire agreement, not peace treaty. DPRK is in a state of semi-war against the United States and regards Japan as an alliance of the enemy. In 2001, Spy Ship Incident in the Southwest of Kyushu broke out. Japanese patrol vessels and a North Korean spy ship waged a 10 minutes gunfight. This is obviously the use of force; therefore Japanese people cannot stay too calm nowadays. Shouting “save peaceful constitution!” does nothing for peace. Wake up, Japanese. Or they will not really wake up until the war break out. Then, what can Japan do with this Constitution? Please think about it.
Si vis pacem, para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)