Article 9 and Japan’s Future

Two leading peace thinkers on the cultivation of Article 9

IKURO ANZAI is the Honorary Director of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace, Ritsumeikan University. JOHAN GALTUNG is the founder of the Transcend Peace Network (see KJ 38, “The Education of a Peacemaker”). Their discussion on Article 9 was taped at the Kyoto Museum for World Peace in 2008 by Robert Kowalczyk.

 Imperial Japan 日本帝国 Geopolitical Eveningwear (2003-08) Photographs by Tomas Svab

Imperial Japan 日本帝国 Geopolitical Eveningwear (2003-08) Photographs by Tomas Svab

ANZAI IKURO: The Kyoto Museum for World Peace at Ritsumeikan University was established in 1992. Since then, it has been visited by 900,000 people, including many of the younger generation, which I believe is important. It was the first peace museum attached to a university and, much to my regret, it still remains the only one. This is interesting due to this university’s history.

Ritsumeikan was a highly militaristic university from the 1920s to the 1940s. In 1928 it even organized an armed unit called the kineitai to guard the Emperor’s Palace in the center of Kyoto. Ishiwara Kanji, who was a very active participant behind the scenes of the so-called Manchurian Incident of 1931, beginning Japan’s planned conquest of northern China, was invited to Ritsumeikan as a professor in 1941. He was made the first director of the National Defense Study Institute of the university. From 1943 onwards, Ritsumeikan sent about 3,000 students to the front — 1,000 of whom were killed. A similar number of students were sent to military factories in Japan to produce munitions, bombs and airplanes. At that time the university expelled its many students from Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula because they didn’t want to be soldi-ers for the emperor. So Ritsumeikan University was among the most militaristic universities of that time. After World War II MacArthur designated it as one of three universities to be abolished, along with Kokushikan University in Tokyo and Kogakukan University in Mie Prefecture.
The Japanese people suffered very much as a consequence of war policy with which Ritsumeikan so actively cooperated. I am currently writing a five-volume history of the air raids which were experienced by people in 47 prefectures. About 700,000 people were killed in them, including the great Tokyo air raid of March 10, 1945.

JOHAN GALTUNG: The air raids in Germany killed about 600,000, which has been very well documented. This is important because these topics have become taboo for a long time. That was the victor’s side of the story — “We had to kill a little bit in order to defeat these people.”

ANZAI: And of course the Japanese people also experienced the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, just after World War II, the Japanese people thought that peace was the most important thing, and this was the fundamental thinking that produced our “Peace Constitution.” Of course, I’ve heard you say that this is not an “active” Peace Constitution and that it should become one that takes a more positive approach to peace.

GALTUNG: It is a no-war constitution and that’s already good. The philosophy expressed in the preamble is that Japan shall never be visited again with the horrors of war. Now let us only add that one horror of war is to be defeated. So, maybe that was one of the right-wing arguments of the time. Nobody likes being defeated. But as you point out, at that time there probably was a more positive attitude to Article 9.

ANZAI: Yes, just after the war the most important thing was to avoid another war. However, wrong interpretations of Article 9 began in 1947 just after the enactment of the Constitution. One of the earliest controversies was about the interpretation of paragraph two, which reads, “In order to accomplish the aims of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air force as well as other war potential shall never be maintained.” What is stated in “the preceding paragraph”? That is where the controversy begins. Paragraph one of Article 9 states, “the Japanese people forever renounce war, and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” They then interpreted this as saying that the concept of a self-defense force was not against Article 9 because such a force would not be involved in international conflicts.

But in 1947, in the process of trying to revise the Constitution, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida responded quite clearly, when asked about the illegality of the Self-Defense Forces, that almost all wars were fought in the name of self-defense and the concept of self-defense itself was dangerous and could not be recognized as such. So at the very beginning, this kind of discussion was already being conducted in the Diet. These discussions have steadily continued to pervert the original meaning of Article 9. In 1957, for example, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi said that even nuclear weapons were not against the Constitution. And in 1998, just after an atomic bomb test by India, Mr. Omori, the Head of the Legislation Bureau, said that the use of nuclear weapons for self-defense was not against the Constitution. Changes in government interpretation are continually attacking the original meaning and spirit of Article 9.

GALTUNG: It’s a kind of inflation in the sense that one Prime Minister has an interpretation which lays a basis for the next interpretation, and so on. Of course, they are aiming at a redrafting now that would make it possible for Japan to participate actively in war, provided possibly that there is a mandate from the UN. But I would like to point out one thing in this connection: I don’t find it unreasonable to say there is room for a self-defense force, meaning that the Japanese archipelago be equipped with defensive weapons with which you cannot wage war. But Article 9 does not express anything about other ways of solving international disputes.

ANZAI: That’s very true.

GALTUNG: This would of course mean mediation — reconciliation with those with whom you’ve been at war — active peace building, equitably harmonious relationships. If you interpret Article 9 very strictly and say that it rules out any kind of army, then there is nothing in Article 9 about non-military defense, a Gandhian type of defense, let’s say. So, from that point of view, a strict interpretation of Article 9 leaves Japan rather helpless. That’s not so positive either.

However, my major point is this: Article 9 can also be seen as a gift to humanity, simply denouncing war. Simply doing that. And then a lot of things will have to be added, things which I mentioned. But, internationally speaking, if the Japanese government had taken that line and said, “Look, we have Article 9. Let’s make the best of it. Let us say Article 9 for everybody. And let us simply mobilize our embassy, our whole diplomatic service, whatever we have, to say we have a protocol in Tokyo, the protocol is open, who wants to sign it and put Article 9 into their constitution? We can discuss it. We can revise it, and maybe we can improve it. But the spirit of no war should remain.” If you did that, Japan would become a leader in the world. Right now Japan is a country in the shadows of the United States and going down together with it.

ANZAI: I’m a representative of the Article 9 Message Project which is collecting letters, pictures and paintings related to Article 9 and peace. I have often been invited as a speaker on the subject of Article 9 to meetings throughout Japan. Every time I speak before the public, I have a complicated feeling, for the people before me don’t need to listen to my speech because they have the same values as I have in respect to Article 9. It’s important for me to convey my ideas to the people who do not come to the meetings. The Article 9 Message Project is now printing pamphlets that express the many different aspects of Article 9. So we are able to distribute our thoughts to hundreds of thousands of people. This kind of activity has become important.

GALTUNG: At a meeting you can get feedback, questions, a standing ovation. Perhaps it’s good for the ego. But much more important is to reach people who are not convinced. Maybe the Internet is the best way of doing that.

ANZAI: The task is the same with peace museums. The people who visit them are highly welcome, but we must find ways to invite more people who do not want to come.

GALTUNG: Exactly. Your peace museum has gone through this kind of movement to attract others. When I visited it for the first time in 1992, it was an anti-war museum describing the horrors of war. Now it is much more of a true peace museum. Years ago, I was asked to help design what I guess to be the biggest peace museum in the world, which is in Normandy, France, and is called the Caen Memorial. I was given a free hand on designing, so I did my best. They already had an anti-war section, based on the Second World War, and a Cold War section, and the third section was a peace museum. I found it most interesting to work on the positive aspects of peace. I think it very important for visitors to feel that they are not obliged to either applaud or reject but rather for them to have received some impression just by coming and having a look around.

ANZAI: Yes, that’s true. In 2005, when the Kyoto Museum for World Peace was renovated, we moved in that direction. We prepared exhibits displaying not only memories of war but also those of structural violence and possible ways solve these problems. We also established a room to introduce the activities of twelve different NGOs working for peace, which was also important. We tried to appeal to visitors to think what they themselves can do.

There are 7,000 Article 9 associations throughout Japan. This is unusual. We have had three similar movements in post-war Japan. The first was in 1954, after the U.S. hydrogen bomb was tested at Bikini Atoll. The second was during the 1960s. There was a strong anti-Vietnam War movement here in Japan, including the four million union workers who went on strike against that war.


ANZAI: The third was in 1978, when more than thirty million signatures were sent to the U.N. Special Session devoted to Nuclear Disarmament. Now we are facing the fourth wave in the peace movement by establishing Article 9 associations throughout Japan. It is a kind of hope. But even if each Article 9 association organizes one thousand people, that makes only seven million people, which is not enough to stop the government. We must mobilize more and more.

I was with one group in Wakayama Prefecture. I was struck by their dedication. They were to a large extent retired teachers. They had much time and knowledge. They knew each other and were locally based. In other words, it went in a sense beyond Article 9 to the invigoration of the local community, which is the true nature of the people. They talked about local currencies, local traditional crafts and local self-sufficiency. Even if the Japanese government has no real strategy or has taken somebody else’s strategy, the people have their own. And the people have a spirit which will play a major role internationally in the decades to come. It has to be developed to a higher level qualitatively and quantitatively. What do you think will come out of this?

ANZAI: I think this movement must be somehow connected with politics.

GALTUNG: It must be. I’ve been observing Japan since 1968, and now for the first time there is something resembling a debate in the Diet. I mean between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party. I only wish that the Democratic Party would have a peace strategy or a peace goal. They are quarreling on one issue after the other and all those issues have to do with Article 9 in one way or another. They have to do with concessions and contracts, and refueling of navy ships participating in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has to do with the so-called hosting of the bases, as you mentioned, the 90 U.S. bases here in Japan. Actually, there are more than 730 U.S. bases in 130 countries in the world. Partially due to the cost of these bases, the USA is bankrupt, and more than bankrupt, heavily indebted.
What will come out of this? Is there a point when there will be a turning in Japan? It’s good to have these 7,000 groups but it has to be connected with politics and the government of Japan.

ANZAI: Last July, the Japanese people experienced a slight change in the political situation in the national election of the Upper House. I think some Japanese students also began to feel that they could change their society through social involvement. So I have some hope for them.

I have an interesting story about Ishiwara Kanji whom as I mentioned played a major role in the Manchurian Incident and was invited to Ritsumeikan University. After the start of World War II, he resisted Tojo Hideki who was then the Prime Minister and who commanded the Pacific War, and so he was not prosecuted as a category-A war criminal after the war. At the start of the war, he insisted on “a final war for global peace,” but in 1947 after the enactment of the Constitution of Japan, he began to say that global peace must be accomplished through Article 9. He said that Article 9 was quite explicit and would lead to peace.

GALTUNG: Well, no other country has an Article 9. It’s a gift to humanity. When I first came to Japan in January 1968, the media was filled only with government people, technocrats and corporate people, and all had diplomas from Tokyo University or Kyoto University. It was very limited to an elite. Today, however, it is blossoming with NGOs, local movements, old people, young people, and enormous numbers of women. It is the underbrush that was concealed before. It is now a vegetation so rich that it is overshadowing the types of people that used to run Japan, and to some extent still do, who are being pushed aside by it. I see this as one sign of optimism.

Now, I’d like to hold the Article 9 banner up high. The point is that it is a signal. From the European point of view, it is a signal of an anti-Westphalia peace treaty that actually ushered in the state system with the right of war. Article 9 says this country does not have the right of war and renounces the right of war. Stay with it and make it a beacon to enlighten the world.

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