Japan’s ConstitutionThe bill for a national referendum that starts the procedure for revising the Japanese Constitution was passed yesterday by the Japanese House of Councilors, following the same decision by the House of Representatives. The revision of the current Peace Constitution has begun in a real sense. According to this bill, the revision of the Constitution cannot be proposed for the next three years, but it now seems to be just a matter of time for the 60-year history of the post-war Constitution to be rewritten. After a long debate, Japan has finally established a base for revision, a worrisome political change for neighboring countries, including Korea.
Public opinion in Japan favors the revision itself. Most Japanese oppose the revision of Article 9 of the Constitution, which forbids Japan from using military force to settle disputes. But those who lead the revision, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, say revision of the controversial article is the ultimate goal. The draft for the revision of the Constitution that the Liberal Democratic Party released in 2005 also made it clear. The revision of Article 9 may mean independence in the truest sense to Prime Minister Abe, but it certainly imposes new threats on neighboring countries.
Even without the revision, Japan has constantly enforced its military power through different moves. Based on its security treaty with the United States, Japan changed and reinforced its self-defense plan, revised guidelines for military cooperation between the two countries and signed the Japan-U.S. joint declaration on security. Japan’s Self-Defense Force has widened its range in the Asia-Pacific region. Many point out that its principle to focus on self-defense only is, in actuality, breaking.
Thanks to the Constitution, Japan’s neighboring countries have been able to suffer less from the nightmares of the past. If Japan emerges as an unleashed military super-power, what will happen in Northeast Asia? The countries in the region will compete over spending on their armaments and territories will become more hostile. We wonder why the Japanese ruling circle is hurrying to revise the Constitution.
Whether the Japanese Constitution remains the same or is rewritten is for the Japanese to decide. However, Japan must consider its neighboring countries on the sensitive Article 9 of the Constitution.
We also must be well-prepared for the possibility that Japan may strip off its pacifist Constitution, which could become reality in a few years.