[FOUNTAIN]Pacifism as world heritageGeneral Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers stationed in occupied Japan, was infuriated by a story in the Feb. 1, 1946 issue of the Mainichi Shimbun. General MacArthur had proposed that Japan needed to revise its constitution if it were to get rid of its militarism and be born again as a democratic country. However, the specific provisions of the constitution were left to the Japanese government. The Japanese government’s draft reported in the newspaper was not much different from the existing imperial constitution. General MacArthur ordered creation of a new draft of the Constitu-tion, proposing three basic points. The second point in the document, now known as “The MacArthur Notes,” was the renunciation of war, which became the basis of Article 9 in the current “Pacifist Constitution.” Only 10 days later, the officers in the government completed a draft and handed it over to the Japanese government.
This process has been the root of controversy time and again. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has even called the current constitution, “a letter of repentance from the defeated Japanese.”
Historians, however, point out the fact that Japanese Prime Minster Kijuro Shidehara had brought up pacifism, namely the renunciation of war, when he visited the office of General MacArthur on Jan. 24, prior to the Mainichi report. Later, General MacArthur testified at a Congressional hearing that the renunciation of war was proposed by Japan.
Lately, a book titled “Article 9 of the Constitution will be the world heritage” has become a bestseller in Japan. It is written in the form of a conversation between a cultural anthropologist and a comedian well-known for political and social satire. The book defines the pacifist constitution as a “collaboration between the Americans, who sought realization of an ideal society, and the Japanese, who were resolved to never start a war again.” Furthermore, the book calls the constitution “the only miracle performed by mankind in an age stained with blood” and proposed a movement to promote Article 9 as a Unesco Intangible World Heritage.
Friday was the 60th anniversary of the pacifist constitution’s promulgation. To a person, the 60th anniversary marks a turning point.
The pacifist constitution is standing at a crossroads.
It could be treated as an antiquity and sent to a museum or be recognized as a world heritage, with concentrated idealism for mankind and extended life.
*The writer is Tokyo correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yeh Young-june