Group seeks Nobel for Japan’s pacifist constitution

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Group seeks Nobel for Japan’s pacifist constitution

A group of 50 veteran Korean politicians and societal leaders led a petition on Thursday recommending the Japanese constitution’s pacifist Article 9 be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize amid Tokyo’s efforts to amend the clause, which denounces belligerency.

The politicians in support of the petition, both conservatives and liberals, included former prime ministers Lee Hong-koo, Chung Un-chan and Goh Kun, and other experts from the academic, cultural and legal sectors.

“Our people, who have endured colonization and wartime division, hold dearly a desire for universal peace, and 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of our liberation from colonial rule [from Japan] and the end of World War II,” Park Kwan-yong, the former president of the National Assembly, said at a press conference on Thursday at the Press Center in central Seoul.

“We hope that, should Japan’s peaceful Constitution be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it would serve as an opportunity to advance peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and worldwide … and confirm that the lessons learned by humanity after war have not gone awry.”

Tokyo’s efforts to break away from its postwar pacifist constitution in order to reclaim its rights to collective self-defense have alarmed Seoul, particularly because of the right-wing Japanese government’s tendency toward historical revisionism and a lack of remorse for its wartime aggressions.

Article 9 of the postwar Japanese constitution reads: “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes,” and for this purpose “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

The cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided in July 2013 that Japan’s right to exercise collective self-defense was not in violation of Article 9, a conclusion that was based on an unconventional interpretation of the constitution.

Abe is expected to fulfill his campaign pledge and move toward legalizing collective self-defense in a formal amendment next year.

“The campaign for Article 9 was initiated in 2013 by a Japanese mother of two [Naomi Takasu from Kanagawa Prefecture], which spread as an Internet petition and led to its nomination for the Nobel Prize in 2014 after gathering more than 41,000 signatories,” said Lee Bu-young, an adviser to the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy and the head of the National Movement to renegotiate the 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty.

Organizers have launched a Korean website and Facebook page for the petition.

BY SARAH KIM, LEE JI-SANG [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]



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