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Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War

Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,  

Season's greetings!

We are pleased to send you our quarterly eNewsletter for October - December, 2013 with some information about the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War's recent activities and related developments, amidst intense debate on revising Japan's peace constitution.

In This Issue




In recent weeks, tensions in the East China Sea have significantly escalated in a vicious circle of provocations and confrontational rhetoric between Tokyo and Beijing. 

The escalation plays into the hands of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is accelerating his efforts to change war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution and strengthen Japan’s security and military posture.

In this context of mounting tensions, the governmental panel of experts on security issues, initially set up by Abe during his first mandate and revived in December 2012, presented its recommendations to the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet on October 21, 2013.

The document outlines key elements for a new national security policy that will serve as the basis to revise the country’s National Defense Program Guidelines for the years to come. The final version of the new security strategy is expected to be concluded by December to be approved once relevant ministries and the ruling coalition have worked out its details.

However, the general debate on changing the interpretation of the constitution, scheduled to take place by year’s end, seems to have been postponed to next year’s ordinary Diet session. The delay is due to the refusal of coalition partner New Komeito – that presents itself as a peace upholding party – to endorse the Cabinet’s attempts to review the interpretation behind closed doors.

According to New Komeito’s Yamaguchi Natsuo, for decades, consecutive governments "have held a stance that the spirit of the constitution is that Japan does not use force overseas. The Self-Defence Forces have been used for humanitarian aid or disaster relief. Any attempts or consideration should be the extension of that stance and within that boundary." He has made clear that his party stands firm on maintaining the historical interpretation of the constitution – a position that seems to be supported by a popular majority, according to opinion polls.

Panel’s report
Claiming to set the ground for "a proactive pacifism based on the principle of international cooperation", the panel’s report makes recommendations on the nature of the new national security policy that are fully in line with Abe’s public efforts to strengthen Japan's defense capabilities and broaden the scope of defense cooperation with other countries.

Expectedly, the document significantly revisits a number of key principles that have governed Japan for decades, notably its longstanding self-imposed arms export embargo.

On December 5, a working group of the ruling coalition (LDP and New Komeito) adopted a new Arms Export Control Principle that would allow Japan to export arms in cases where it "serves the country’s national security" – thus de facto abandoning the 1967 Three Principles on Arms Export. The process for formalizing this new principle remains opaque and will need to be monitored in the coming months.     

If the report makes no explicit mention of Abe’s declared goals of lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense or changing the interpretation of war-renouncing Article 9, it nonetheless paves the way to the exercise of right of collective self-defense by calling for "further strengthening national security and defense cooperation” between Japan and other countries, notably the United States. The document also lays down Abe’s new principle of “proactive pacifism.”

“Pro-active pacifism”
Over the last few months, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and members of his administration have often terms such as “proactive pacifism” and “pro-active contribution to peace” when speaking about their vision for Japan’s foreign policy and security.

The idea was first mentioned last June at the annual Asia Security Summit known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, where Minister of Defense Onodera Itsunori explained Japan’s review of its defense policy as a way to empower the country to “play a responsible role as a member of the international community” and to “make a more proactive and creative contribution toward regional stability.”

Since then, Abe has actively promoted the concept of “active pacifism”.

In his address to the UN General Assembly in September, he pledged that he “will make Japan a force for peace and stability, just as it has been until now” and promised the world body that “Japan will newly bear the flag of "Proactive Contribution to Peace," anchoring on the undeniable records and solid appraisal of our country, which has endeavored to bring peace and prosperity to the world, emphasizing cooperation with the international community.”

He also gave insurance that he will “enable Japan, as a Proactive Contributor to Peace, to be even more actively engaged in UN collective security measures, including peacekeeping operations” – participation that has been controversial under the present interpretation of Article 9 of Japan’s constitution.

A rebranding exercise?
Yet, if Abe has fallen short of spelling out what “pro-active pacifism” specifically entails – he even claims to leave the task of spelling it out for a later stage – he has made no secret that the initiative requires to achieve some of his long-cherished goals, notably of revising (or at least re-interpreting) Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, regaining the right of collective self-defense and extending Japan’s military role regionally and internationally, in order to allow the country to better contribute to world peace.

"Defense capabilities should reflect a country's will and ability to protect its peace and independence, so we need to acquire defense capabilities that will allow the SDF to play the role that is required of them," Abe told the panel.

In the same vein, during the 21st Japan-EU Summit held in Tokyo in November, Abe also included “initiatives such as the establishment of a National Security Council, the formulation of its first National Security Strategy, the review of National Defence Programme Guidelines, and the re-examination of (the) legal basis for security including the matter of exercising the right of collective self-defence” as necessary steps to enhance Japan’s capacity to “proactively contribute even more to peace and stability in the region and the world, based on the principle of international cooperation.”

As part of his grand plan to bolster the country’s security and military posture, Abe has pushed through some significant policies. Notably, the Defense Ministry announced early November that it was seeking to increase the country’s military budget for 2014 to 4.8928 trillion yen – an increase of almost 3% from this fiscal year.

Further, on November 27, the Upper House of the Diet adopted a law establishing Japan’s first National Security Council. A set up of some 60+ staff, the new organization is considered a replica of the US National Security Council. 

The bill came through a day after Abe forced through a highly controversial and broadly contested secrecy law, which imposes penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment on people accused of leaking information deemed as state secrets by Cabinet ministers and heads of government agencies, notably information concerning diplomacy, defense, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage.

The forcing through of these decisions, despite strong popular opposition, indicates Abe’s determination to pursue his major policies and casts a shadow on the future of the constitutional debate.

Thus, to many observers, the coining of the concept of “pro-active pacifism” seems to be nothing else than seeking international legitimacy for his declared efforts at the national level to amend the constitution and build up Japan’s military capability.

In Japan, a number of observers, including military analyst Maeda Tetsuo, former diplomat and former director of Hiroshima Peace Institute Asai Motofumi, and peace and disarmament advocate Kawasaki Akira, are raising concerns about using terms such as “pro-active pacifism”. Citing examples ranging from the Roman Empire’s “Pax Romana”, to Truman’s praise of the sacrifices by US soldiers as "fighting for peace" in the 195-53 Korean War, and the calling of the 1982 Lebanon war as “Operation Peace in Galilee”, they argue that throughout history, promoting peace has often been used as the rationale for justifying wars.

At the international level, Abe seems to garner Western backing, as stated in the joint statement issued at the Japan-EU summit that reads: “The EU welcomed the prospect of Japan contributing more proactively to regional and global peace and security and its work to this end.”

Not surprisingly, the US “also welcomed Japan’s determination to contribute more proactively to regional and global peace and security" as part of a “strategic vision for a more robust Alliance and greater shared responsibilities.” In the Joint Statement issued on October 3 by US Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel, and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida and Minister of Defense Onodera, Washington further welcomes Japan’s efforts “to expand its role within the framework of the U.S.-Japan Alliance, … establish its National Security Council and to issue its National Security Strategy… [as well as to] re-examin[e] the legal basis for its security including the matter of exercising its right of collective self-defense, expanding its defense budget, reviewing its National Defense Program Guidelines, [and] strengthening its capability to defend its sovereign territory.

At the regional level, however, the initiative raises anxiety among Japan’s East Asian neighbors, notably China and South Korea, which fear that while Abe speaks of Japan’s role and position in international affairs when talking of “active pacifism,” he is in fact targeting China and the region.

"The idea of active pacifism is a major change in Japan's defense visions. It will also highly likely be realized by revising the law, a situation that has never happened in Japan since the war," explains Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Where will Japan's security policies go ahead and how will they realize it? We'll follow closely," Li adds.

Likewise, in Seoul, some have expressed concerns that Japan's push to strengthen its military through constitutional revision may encroach on South Korea's sovereignty. According to a Korean official: “It would be unacceptable for (Japan to) stretch its interpretation of the right, and (exercise the right) to address issues involving the Korean Peninsula and sovereignty of South Korea.” If in an unexpected turn of event a senior Japanese official seem to have given Seoul some guarantees that SDF would not carry out activities in the Korean Peninsula without prior consent, the climate remains tense.

Need for an East Asian Collective Security Mechanism
Indeed, the debate on Abe’s “pro-active pacifism” cannot be taken out of the regional context, notably the escalating tensions and growing territorial disputes between Asian neighbors.

"I think political temperature has risen a little bit, and this needs to be addressed," said Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, during her recent visit to Seoul. She further cautioned against the rise in military expenditures in East Asia.

Citing the case of Europe where military expenditures have decreased as an example, Kane called for a collective security mechanism in East Asia. "I'm hoping there's a forum within the region that can address that. I understand there isn't much of a forum to address it," she said.

Former Japanese Ambassador to China Miyamoto Yuji concurs. East Asia has entered such an era that "we have to have a large platform for dialogue, a security mechanism that makes everyone assured."

It will take a lot to overcome skepticism over Abe’s political motives, both at home and in the region. Abe will have to reconcile his vision for Japan’s “pro-active contribution to peace” with the country’s longstanding pacific policies, and his controversial takes on historical and reconciliation issues. It will also require strong diplomatic efforts to establish dialogue with Japan’s neighbors and beyond.

Image credit: Toru Hanai/Reuters & Pool/Getty


The Second Global Article 9 Conference 2013 was held in Osaka on October 13-14, 2013. A total of 5,500 people attended, including many from peace and citizens organizations in Japan, as well as international guests from the US, Canada, Korea, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Tunisia and beyond.       

On the first day of the event, an international conference at Kansai University featured a plenary session on the situation and challenges facing Article 9 in Japan, as well as panel discussions exploring themes such as the role of Article 9 in East Asia, its contribution to establishing a world without war and codifying the human right to peace.

Panelists included a number of Japanese and international figures, notably former US diplomat and peace activist Ann Wright; Korean university professor and representative of People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy Lee Kyung-Ju; President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Jeanne Mirer; Canadian-based representative of the Peace Philosophy Centre and Vancouver Article 9 Association Satoko Norimatsu; Tunisian lawyer Belhassen Ennouri; Costa Rican attorney specialized in constitutional affairs human rights Luis Roberto Zamora; Japanese researcher and legal expert Makoto Ito, and more.

On the second day, a large event brought together over 5,000 participants for a day of speeches and performances.

Building on the Global Article 9 Declaration to Abolish War adopted at the Global Article 9 Conference in May 2008, participants issued the Osaka Declaration 2013.

The document expresses deep concern at the current political situation in Japan and opposes Prime Minister Abe’s efforts towards “constitutional revision which would remove this progressive peace clause, or any reinterpretation which would undermine it.”

Indeed, the document recognized that “Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is not only in accord with the spirit of contemporary international law for its renunciation of war; it is also a peace clause which goes a step further than the United Nations Charter in its declaration not to maintain war potential nor recognize the right to belligerency of the state.”

In the troubled regional context, the declaration further calls for Article 9 to be better utilized at the regional level, “to promote the creation of a regional peace mechanism in East Asia to replace an arms race and then current tensions.”

Reflecting on the preamble of the Japanese constitution that sees peace as more than the absence of war by “granting people "the right to live in peace, free from fear and want", participants expressed hopes that the efforts now underway to make the United Nations officially recognize the right to peace an international human right will succeed.

Visit the Global Article 9 Conference in Kansai 2013 site in English here.

Watch a short video on the Human Right to Peace here.


From October 18-28, Japan-based Peace Boat and Korea's largest environmental NGO, the Green Foundation, organized the sixth "Peace & Green Boat" voyage aimed at building brings between the countries in the region towards a peaceful, sustainable future for East Asia.

With 500 citizens from Japan and 500 from South Korea onboard, the voyage sailed through the East China Sea and visited the ports of Hakata, Busan, Taiwan, and Shanghai.

As part of the voyage, and in a context of exacerbated regional tensions, a symposium on the role of Article 9 was held, during which panelists from Okinawa, Taiwan, South Korea, the US and Japan discussed their own experience and perspective.

At a time when Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is deploying efforts to revise or re-interpret Japan's peace clause, all speakers made clear that in their view, Article 9 was not just the property of Japan, but an issue of regional and global concern.

According to Hsu Szu-chien of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, any amendment or change of interpretation of Article 9 could have drastic consequences for the regional balance. "If Article 9 were to be taken away, the relations between Japan and China might worsen, which would also mean an increase of tensions across the Straits between China and Taiwan."

This view was shared by Korean novelist Su Hae-Sung who argued that "Article 9 is necessary for the peace in Okinawa, Taiwan, Jeju Island, and for Japan, China and Korea" as a whole.

For her part, retired US diplomat and military colonel and peace activist Ann Wright spoke about the danger of the US pivot toward Asia and the Pacific and deplored the fact that US Government is putting enormous pressure on Japan to revise Article 9.

"The US citizens do not fully understand the role that Article 9 plays in the world, or the US strategy in East Asia. The principle of Article 9 can play an important role in peace education on a global scale," she stated. Many Japanese participants in the audience were surprised and encouraged by these words.

"We must not only talk about how to protect Japan's Article 9, but also how to spread its principles and values." These words from Szuchien closed the symposium, making all those present reconsider the meaning and value of Japan's peace clause.

More information about Peace and Green Boat 2013 here.

Read Ann Wright's post on the voyage here.


As 2013 comes to an end, nuclear weapons abolition advocates have much to celebrate. Looking back at their achievements this year, nobody can deny that they have succeeded in reframing the terms of the nuclear disarmament debate by focusing around a humanitarian approach, and garnered broad support for it. Today, thanks notably to the relentless efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impact that any use of nuclear weapons would have are at the very center of the discourse.

First mentioned at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament began to gain traction in 2012. Support for this new approach grew from 16 states at the NPT Review Conference in Vienna in May 2012 to 35 at UN General Assembly First Committee meetings in October that year.

Early 2013, in March in Oslo, governments publicly recognized for the first time the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that any use of nuclear weapons would have and concluded that the only way to prevent such catastrophe would be to abolish them.

Today, this humanitarian approach has become a dominant one and, some will even say, a driving force in the international nuclear weapons debate.

High-level meeting on nuclear disarmament
In September 2013, the UN General Assembly held the first ever high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament. Despite resistance from nuclear-armed states, the meeting had a strong humanitarian focus, with a large majority of governments and regional groups voicing their concerns about the grave human and environmental threats posed by nuclear weapons.

Further, several countries also highlighted the financial costs of nuclear weapons and called for the re-allocation of resources towards sustainable socio-economic development. Among them, Brazilian Vice Minister Carlos Antonio da Rocha Paranhos, who stated: “It is estimated that half the amount annually invested in nuclear arsenals would be enough to achieve all internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015,” stated Brazilian Vice Minister Carlos Antonio da Rocha Paranhos.

In their addresses to the meeting, civil society representatives also highlighted the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and expressed a sense of urgency to stigmatize, ban and eliminate them. In her moving statement (video/text), Nosizwe Baqwa of ICAN pointed at the responsibilities of governments. “That nuclear weapons have not already been clearly declared illegal for all, alongside the other prohibited weapons of mass destruction, is a failure of our collective social responsibility,” she stated. “The time has come for committed states to correct that failure. The time has come to ban nuclear weapons once and for all.”

Echoing her appeal, Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee made a powerful plea: “Each of us, whether head of state, minister, ambassador, activist, or scholar, has agency. Each of us is responsible to our loved ones and to future generations to protect human lives and to preserve the human species. Each of us – to different extents –can impact our nations’ policies. On behalf of the world’s NGOs working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I urge you to remember your humanity and take bold actions to eliminate the danger of nuclear war and annihilation.”

United Nations General Assembly Joint Statement
A month later, in October at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee Meeting, as many 125 states came together to issue a joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

This large number of co-sponsors represents a significant increase of the number of countries that “are putting the security of their people above the militarist justifications for some states to have nuclear weapons," declared ICAN Co-Chair Rebecca Johnson.

Among them notably, Japan, which had earlier refused to endorse similar statements, despite being the only country to have suffered atomic bombings.

Building on this momentum, Mexico is organizing, as a follow-up to the discussions started in Oslo in March 2013, the second international meeting on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons that will bring together governments, UN agencies, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, experts and academics, as well as civil society organizations.

The event, to be held in Nayarit on February 13-14, 2014, will provide another opportunity to examine the impact of the use of nuclear weapons, demonstrate that it is impossible to mitigate their effects, and establish that the only way forward is to ban them.

While some observers still consider nuclear weapons abolition as a “political fantasy”, these developments show that efforts to shift the focus of the debate from security doctrines and power politics to humanitarian arguments are proving successful in increasing popular pressure and contributing to form a social movement.

“Together we have put humanitarian considerations front and centre in the international nuclear weapons debate and thereby prepared the ground for a new treaty to outlaw and eliminate these weapons,” declared ICAN.

While there may indeed be a long way to go before this becomes a reality, 2013 ends with a sense that history is in the making – and it may well happen soon.

Picture credit: ICAN


GDAMS 2014

The date of the 4th edition of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) has now been fixed: Monday April 14, 2014.

In 2012, the world military expenditure totaled $1753 billion – around 2.5% of world GDP or 604 times the regular UN budget.

Last year, people on all continents joined together and organized 155 actions in 124 cities/towns in 24 countries to get public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and call for new priorities, namely reduce military spending and focus on financing essential human needs: prevent deadly conflicts, confronting climate change, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, etc.

April 14 coincides with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) annual figures on world military expenditures. It is also a day before Tax Day in the US and in the Philippines. In Japan, the date comes less than a month before celebrations for the anniversary of the Constitution (May 3), which in the current context, promise to raise the issue of Japan’s deplorable path to militarization.

While each location will craft its own approach, all actions have a common focus on calling attention to the overall size of global military spending and reaching out to different sectors, including labor, religious, social justice, development, youth… as well as policy-makers, will strengthen and multiply the impact of GDAMS.

The Global Article 9 Campaign invites you to mark your calendar, participate actively in GDAMS 2014, and spread the news in your newsletters, social media etc.

GDAMS is being coordinated by the International Peace Bureau (IPB).

For more information, visit GDAMS website here, its Facebook page here, and/or contact Ms. Mylene Soto here.

Support GDAMS' crowd-funding efforts aimed at raising $10,000 by December 31 here.

Thank you for your interest in and support for the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.


The Article 9 Team

Newsletter Editor:
Celine Nahory, International Coordinator
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War / Peace Boat

Our mailing address is:
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War, Peace Boat
B1, 3-13-1 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku
Tokyo 169-0075

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