Japan: Pax Christi gravely concerned at plan to abandon peace constitution

Independent Catholic News

japanPax Christi, the International Catholic Peace Movement, regrets very strongly the decision of 1 July 2014 of the Government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to approve changes to Japan’s post-war security policy that could lead to the Self-Defence Forces’ use of military force in overseas missions and allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defence.

Pax Christi International and many of its Member Organisations, including the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace (CCJP), have been campaigning for many years to keep the original wording of the Constitution which reads:

“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. 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 recognised.”

Now, with the changes to the interpretation of Article 9, a Cabinet-approved document allows for the use of force as a means of self-defence not only when Japan comes under military attack, but also when a nation with a close relationship to Japan comes under attack. This move taken by the present Japanese government means a historical turning point in post-war Japan and a weakening of its commitment to constitutional non-violence.

Pax Christi International is deeply concerned about this decision to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Article 9 has been a sign of hope for a world that yearns for deep, inclusive and lasting peace. It has encouraged dialogue and diplomacy, helping Japan to become a stabilising factor in East Asia rather than a threat to neighbouring countries. We strongly encourage the Japanese government to address “territorial disputes” in accordance with the spirit of Article 9 rather than to revise such an important and visionary article from the Japanese Constitution.

Recent polls have showed that the majority of the Japanese people want to keep the Peace Constitution as it is. Religious leaders and prominent civil society organizations have also raised their voice and their concerns. We applaud the recent statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan and we support their strong call to Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet on their “serious responsibility not to expose the Japanese people and people of other nations to the danger of war and to leave a peaceful world without war to our children.”

We affirm our conviction that amending Article 9 from the Japanese Constitution or changing its interpretation is disrespectful of the will of the majority of the Japanese people and it would be a significant step in the wrong direction. Rather, the commitment represented by Article 9 to build peaceful international relations based on reconciliation, equality, and mutual respect should serve as a model for the world.

Pax Christi International has endorsed the Global Article 9 Campaign and invites all its Member Organisations to sign and further distribute the international online petition ‘Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Save Japan’s Peace Constitution’