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Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War

Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,  

We are pleased to send you our quarterly eNewsletter for April - June, 2015 with some information about the latest developments in the debate over Article 9 in Japan, as well as some of the Global Article 9 Campaign recent activities.

In This Issue




May 14 protest against security legislationOn May 26, Japan’s Diet started deliberation on a set of security bills that would, if adopted, result in a drastic shift away from the country's exclusively defense-oriented security policy and significantly depart from what has been authorized to date under war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese constitution.

The legislation package consists of two bills: the first one seeks to revise 10 existing security-related laws, including on how to deal with armed attacks, international support to the forces of other countries operating overseas, and participation in United Nations-led peacekeeping operations. The second one is a brand-new permanent law that would allow Japan to provide logistic support to a foreign force engaged in armed combat.

The legislation seeks to codify Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s contentious July 2014 Cabinet decision that reinterpreted the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and expand Japan’s security role around the world, under the doctrine of “pro-active pacifism”.

Its adoption is also necessary to put the newly revised guidelines on Japan-U.S. defense cooperation into effect. Formally revised for the first time in 18 years in late April, the new guidelines eliminate restrictions on deployment and the use of military forces, and envision expansion of the scope of SDF operations far beyond what previous governments have allowed in the rhetoric on self-defense for decades.

Addressing the US Congress during his much-hyped visit to the United States in April, Abe commended the security legislation and guaranteed it would be approved by summer: “This reform is the first of its kind and a sweeping one in our postwar history. We will achieve this by this coming summer.”

Heated debate in the Diet
Yet, although the ruling coalition holds the necessary majority in both Diet chambers to pass the bills, a heated parliamentary debate is under way. So much so that some already foresee that the current session that runs until June 24 might be extended until August.

A number of opposition parties fiercely oppose the legislation, in principle, on substance, and in the way it is being pushed forward.

According to an editorial of the Asahi Shimbun:“Enacting the proposed legislation amounts to de facto piecemeal revision of the Constitution by the legislature.” However, rather than following due process of constitutional amendment, the administration has chosen to present as many as 11 bills in total to the Diet as one package, in order to accelerate the debate and have the laws passed by summer. For most in the opposition, this is far too hasty a process for a legislation that would set forth a major turning point in Japan’s security policy.

On substance, there is a wide range of concerns, including regarding the fact that the bills leave many questions unanswered and fail to set clear limits and parameters on when the use of force would be allowed.

According to the text, the three conditions that allow for use of force are: when there is an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan and, as a result, threatens Japan’s survival and poses a clear danger to fundamentally overturn the people’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; when there is no other appropriate means available to protect the people; and when use of force is kept to a minimum extent.

Vaguely worded, the language of the conditions leaves much room for interpretation to determine if and when these criteria are met, leaving it to the judgment of the administration in place. “It’s tantamount to saying, ‘please leave it to the discretion of the government,’” Democratic Party of Japan’s Secretary-General Edano Yukio argued, highlighting concerns that the SDF’s activities abroad could be expanded without limits.

According to Abe, “deploying armed troops to the territory, territorial waters and airspace of other nations in general exceeds the minimum required level for self-defense and is therefore not allowed under the Constitution.” Yet, using the term “in general” clearly implies that there will be exceptions. Abe mentioned minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf could be one of them – a scenario on which the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are at odds.

Other major areas of concern are that the new legislation would increase the possibility of the SDF getting dragged into war (notably alongside the United States), heighten the likelihood of Japan becoming a target of terrorist attacks, and put SDF personnel at greater risk.

Bills declared unconstitutional        
Following weeks of deliberations on the operational aspects of the bills, three of the most respected Japanese constitution lawyers, testifying in the Lower House Commission on the Constitution on June 4, brought the Diet debate back to the basics when they questioned the legitimacy of the July 2014 Cabinet decision and unanimous declared the security bills currently debated “unconstitutional”.

Their common position came as a surprise, given that one of them, professor of constitutional law at Waseda University Hasebe Yasuo, was recommended by the by the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling bloc, and the second, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Keio University Kobayashi Setsu, though backed by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, has been known to be a long-time proponent of revising the constitution. The third expert is another Waseda professor, Sasada Eiji, who was recommended by the Japan Innovation Party (Ishin no To).

Usually, a party puts forward an expert who supports its own arguments. Yet, LDP-backed Hasebe declared that “allowing the use of the right of collective self-defense cannot be explained within the framework of the basic logic of the past government views” of the Constitution. “(The reinterpretation) considerably damages legal stability and violates the Constitution,” he stated.

Kobayashi also stated that the security legislation was unconstitutional. “Going to war abroad to help a friendly nation is a violation of Article 9,” he said, and “Paragraph 2 of Article 9 does not grant any legal standing for military activities abroad.”

Sasada denounced the legislation and Cabinet decision as well, on the ground that they “overstep the bounds of the definitions (of Article 9) that have been established by the successive LDP governments and the Cabinet Legislation Bureau.”

Government officials quickly rejected the view of the three experts, saying not all academics share their opinion - an argument to which Hasebe responded: “Ninety-nine percent of (constitutional) scholars consider (the bills) unconstitutional, at least as far as collective self-defense is concerned.”

Indeed, a growing number of academics and experts have publicly expressed concern over the government’s legislation package. More than 200 scholars have condemned, in a joint statement, the reinterpretation of the war-renouncing clause as unconstitutional and called on administration to withdraw the bills. Japan's Bar Association issued a similar statement.

Mass protests      
The scholars’ position has energized the opposition in the Diet, and reinvigorated public mobilization in support of Japan’s peace constitution around an unprecedented sense of crisis.
Numerous protests and demonstrations denouncing the Abe administration’s pro-war policies and path to militarization have taken place over the past few weeks, with thousands of people taking the streets, rallying in front of the prime minister’s office or at the Diet building.

The largest brought together some 30,000 people on May 3, which celebrates the enforcement of the Constitution. On June 14, as many as 25,000 protesters surrounded the Diet building as a sign of opposition to the security bills currently being debated. More events are planned in the coming weeks.

Public polls
Recent opinion polls suggest a majority of the public oppose Abe’s bid to enact the new security legislation, as many do not fully understand what the security legislation entails and oppose the administration’s effort to push the security bills through during the current Diet session.

According to a Jiji Press poll published on June 15, more than 68% of respondents want the security bills to undergo careful deliberation without sticking to Abe’s goal of passing them during the current Diet session, with 12% of the view they should be scrapped.

A Kyodo News survey carried out on May 30-31 found that over 81% of respondents consider the government’s explanations on the security legislation package “insufficient”, and 68% believed that passage of the new security legislation would increase the risk of Japan being dragged into an armed conflict. These results corroborate the findings of an earlier Asahi Shimbun survey, which also showed that a majority of respondents oppose allowing the exercise the right to collective self-defense, dispatching SDF troops abroad without enacting a special measures law or allowing the SDF to provide rear-echelon support to US forces around the world.

With a short time left before the current session of the Diet ends, Abe’s goal to have his controversial security package adopted seems compromised. The administration must take into account the widely shared criticism that the legislation violates the pacifist constitution, and listen to the growing popular mobilization in support of Article 9.

Picture credit: Asahi Shimbun


Humanitarian pledge - how is your government doing?The 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) concluded its work, without adopting an outcome document, or delivering any real and credible progress to accelerate nuclear disarmament.

This is not the first time the five-year periodic review ends without a formal agreement. Yet, this year revealed that the gap that separates the nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states on the path toward nuclear abolition has now become unbridgeable.

The humanitarian initiative
In 2010, the NPT RevCon outcome document expressed “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.” Since then, three international conferences held in Norway, Mexico and Austria presented indisputable evidence that any use of nuclear weapons would have an unacceptable and inhumane impact, concluded the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination, and drew attention to the legal gap on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Austria, Mexico and a number of other non-nuclear weapons countries stressed in their statements the need for a legal framework to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As many as 159 – out of 190 member-states to the NPT – issued a Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, and an early draft of the 2015 NPT RevCon outcome document called for legal measures, including a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Most significantly, over a hundred governments have endorsed the “Humanitarian Pledge” initiated by Austria, which promises to “identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Mind the gap
Yet, despite the efforts by a large majority of states to bring the work of the humanitarian initiative into the NPT – making it in fact the dominant message during this Review Conference – the nuclear weapon states blocked any reference to it in the final draft outcome document, rendering the text unacceptably weak – before they blocked it on yet another contentious area, the Middle East.

In a closing statement issued on behalf of 49 countries, the Austrian representative assessed the situation as follows: “The exchanges of views that we have witnessed during this review cycle demonstrate that there is a wide divide that presents itself in many fundamental aspects of what nuclear disarmament should mean. There is a reality gap, a credibility gap, a confidence gap and a moral gap.”

“Democracy has come to nuclear disarmament”
Non-nuclear states have grown increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, and by the attitude of the nuclear weapon states that opposed any language reflecting the wide and growing international support for the humanitarian initiative.

Ambassador Minty of South Africa described “a sense that the NPT has degenerated into minority rule” in which “the will of the few will prevail, regardless of whether it makes moral sense”, while Costa Rica observed that “the humanitarian conferences demonstrate that democracy has come to nuclear disarmament, even if democracy is yet to come to the NPT.”

However, the tide may be changing. In the words of Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Alexander Kmentt of Austria: “At this Conference, we have witnessed a clear shifting of the parameters, the focus, the tone and the balance of the discussion and the engagement of all countries of the treaty on nuclear weapons. Non-nuclear weapon states are today more empowered to demand their security concerns be taken in consideration on an equal basis.”

While some deplore the failure of this review cycle, the 2015 NPT RevCon was in fact a game-changer. The real outcome of this periodic review has doubtlessly been the Humanitarian Pledge, which the Washington Post describes as “an uprising among civil society groups and the coalition of 107 states” demanding an end to business as usual.

Time to act, time to ban
Indeed, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Humanitarian Pledge “reflects a fundamental shift in the international discourse on nuclear disarmament”, and its endorsement by over 100 countries indicates “that a majority of governments are preparing for diplomatic action after the Review Conference.”

In its closing statement, Costa Rica stated: “Despite what has happened at this Review Conference, there is no force can stop the steady march of those who believe in human security, democracy and international law. History honors only the brave, those who have the courage to think differently and dream of a better future for all. This is not the time to lament what has happened here, as lamentable as it may be. Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve. Let us all, boldly and finally, give peace a chance.”

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now is the time to begin negotiations towards a ban treaty, and the Humanitarian Pledge is the basis for these negotiations to begin.

Picture credit: ICAN-Germany


On May 24, 2015, in a symbolic act of peace, a group of international women peacemakers from around the world and Korean women walked across the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea and keeps millions of Korean families apart, to call for an end to the Korean War and for a new beginning for a reunified Korea.

The group, known as Women Cross DMZ and led by Korean-American peace activist and the group founder Christine Ahn, comprised of 30 activists from 15 countries, including Nobel Peace laureates Leymah Gbowee and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, women's rights activist Gloria Steinem, and Global Article 9 Campaign and Peace Boat representative Meri Joyce, to name just few.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division. The unresolved Korean conflict gives all governments in the region justification to further militarize and prepare for war, depriving funds for schools, hospitals, and the welfare of the people and the environment.

Visit the Women Cross DMZ website and Facebook page.

Picture credit: NWomen Cross DMZ


On April 13, 2015, the fifth Global Day of Action on Military Spending was celebrated all over the world, with 127 events in 20 countries.

GDAMS partners from the faith-based, labor, peace and disarmament, academics, women, economic justice, environment, human rights, artists and youth communities organised 127 events in 20 countries, including various campaigns in the social media. Events included a wide range of actions, including a kite-flying performance, a street meditation, a night light action, a blockade of military establishments, writing a poem, a video clip and more.

On this occasion, the The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) Northeast Asia issued a statement expressing concerns about the increase in military spending and ongoing military buildup in the region. It highlighted the important role Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution has played as a foundation for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

This year’s Day of Action came at a time of increasing tensions in several regions, and signs of political pressure to spend more from the public purse on the military and to sell yet more weapons. At the same time governments and the UN are urging greater financial commitments both to the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and to efforts to tackle the climate change crisis. The Day of Action was an opportunity to take stock of the facts and to explore what can be done at various levels."

Download GDAMS 2015 full report and visit GDAMS’ website.

Picture credit: CodePink and North Texas Veterans for Peace


Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy - or SEALDs - is an initiative led by Japanese students that aims to create a new political culture and protect the country’s democratic values, through youth’s participation and mobilization.

SEALDs emerged in 2013 in opposition to Prime Minister Abe’s secrecy laws. Since then, a growing number of students and youth in their 20s are voicing their opposition to the current administration’s security and control policies and calling for the protection of Japan’s constitution, pacifism and respect of people’s rights and freedoms.

Inspired by the philosophy of Japan’s Article 9, SEALDs seeks to build a cooperative security regime in Northeast Asia based on dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation.

With their eye-catching designs, viral movies and appealing public events, the SEALDs movement is empowering a new generation of young people to stand up and take action on issues important to them and their future.

SEALDs organize gatherings in front of the Diet every Friday night from 19:30-21:30, and hold outdoor events in areas of Japan popular with young people, such as Tokyo's Shibuya and Harajuku, gaining attention and garnering broad and energetic youth participation.

Visit SEALDs website and Facebook page (in Japanese)

Picture credit: SEALDs

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:
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