A Realistic Constitution

Introduction

     “Article Nine is now becoming dangerous to
Japan because it hampers collective defense with its allies. North Korea’s
nuclear weapons threaten Tokyo and the world, and China is expanding its
military reach. Japan needs a military with offensive capabilities that can
take part in joint military action when Japan isn’t directly under attack.”
(THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 8, 2017)

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 Do we really have to change the constitution?
Japan is now facing the really important turning point of its history under the
Abe’s administration. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took a gamble when he
called early elections in 2017. After, his party and coalition partner won more
than two-thirds of the seats in parliament. He the win is a vote of confidence
from the public – one he sees as a green light to change Japan’s pacifist
constitution. Abe is particularly keen on the move given the threat posed by
nearby North Korea. But what would a stronger Japanese military mean for the
region?

 To look at this phenomenon through the glass
of International relations Theory, I’d say Japan is now walking towards more
realistic point of view. Under the threat of North Korea, and the rise of
China, we Japanese citizens are slowly understanding the power transition of
the world. Plus, as in the Wall Street Journal article says, and under the
presidency of Trump, the U.S. is basically pushing Japan to change its
constitution again. We could say, if Japan would actually change the
constitution in near future, that would be the second time changing the constitution
somehow by the intension of the “foreign actor” United States.

 Therefore, I’m going to apply political
realism to this phenomenon, Japan’s constitution amendment movement and its Abe’s
attempt. And I set one more important question here, Is the Japanese
constitution really a “pacifist” constitution.

 

The Constitution

 The current Constitution of Japan was
promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into effect on May 3, 1947.  One of the Constitution’s distinctive
features is its embrace of pacifism. 
Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war, is considered unique.  Japan is allowed Jieitai, the Self Defense
Forces (SDF):  the Air SDF, the Maritime
SDF, and the Ground SDF.  They cannot be
called land, sea and air forces (gun) because article 9 prohibits Japan from
maintaining military forces. 

 However, the SDF were named, many have
believed the SDF is military and the existence of the SDF is unconstitutional.  Of course, the government has interpreted the
Constitution in a manner in which the SDF would not be unconstitutional. The government
has developed a somewhat unique interpretation of article 9 and its related
rules in order to legalize the existence of the SDF, and has also put
limitations on the SDF in the spirit of article 9.  As the government’s interpretation of article
9 has developed further, many think the interpretation has begun to deviate too
much from article 9’s language.  The
government interpretation has emerged at a time that the United States has
demanded more cooperation from Japan in maintaining Japan’s military security. The
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has been the ruling party for most of the
era after the Second World War, has discussed amending the Constitution,
especially article 9, but resistance has been strong.  It once looked impossible to amend article 9 because
the majority of Japanese people would not support the amendment.  However, global political and security issues
impacting Japan have changed as I mentioned above, as have the viewpoints of
the Japanese people.  Recently, there are
realistic opportunities to amend article 9. (liberty of congress: Sep
29,2015)

 

 

Who’s the proposer?

 In the process of reading
articles about article 9 and amendment movement to it, I actually encountered
some really interesting hypothesises that mainly being argued by Japanese scholars.
There is the big question “Who’s actually the proposer of article 9”. I
personally believe that Shidehara Kichijiro the Prime Minister at the time was
the proposer of article 9.

Shidehara
Kijuro (1872-1951) was an important figure in Japan’s modern
history as a

diplomat,
bureaucrat, and politician. Shidehara was envoy to the Hague in 1914,
ambassador to Washington between 1919 and 1922, minister for foreign affairs
between 1924-1927 and 1929-1931, and Japan’s first postwar prime minister under
the occupation (1945-1946) and instrumental in introducing in Japan’s postwar
constitution Article 9, dealing with the abolition of war. (Erik Paul)

  Here’s the two theories that have
mainly argued. The first one is that it came from Douglas MacArthur,
and the second is that it came from then prime minister Kijyuro Shidehara. And
about the MacArthur theory, both MacArthur and the United States were concerned
about the rearmament of Japan, so in order to avoid that, they included the
clause of pacifism in the Constitution. The article of renunciation of war,
stated in MacArthur’s three principles (also known as MacArthur Note), is as
follows:

 War as a sovereign right of the nation is
abolished. Japan renounces it as an instrumentality for settling its disputes
and even for preserving its own security. It relies upon the higher ideals
which are now stirring the world for its defense and its protection. No
Japanese army, navy, or air force will ever be authorized and no rights of
belligerency will ever be conferred upon any Japanese force.

 However, on the side of the Shidehara theory,
Prime Minister Shidehara visited MacArthur on January 24, just before the
announcement of MacArthur’s three principles, and Michiko Hamuro, the daughter
of Ohira, heard from her father what Shidehara talked about with Komatsuchi
Odaira, the Privy Councilor, and regarding this conference, she wrote:

 Shidehara said that starting from the
idealistic position that the world should not maintain any military, to make a
society without war we should renounce war itself. Then, MacArthur suddenly
stood up, and grasped Shidehara’s hand with both hands, and, full of tears, he
said, that is right. Shidehara was a little surprised by this. MacArthur seemed
to think about doing something good for Japan as much as possible, but some
parts of the U.S. government, some members of GHQ, and also the Far East
committee began an argument that had a tremendous disadvantage for Japan.
Countries such as the Soviet Union, Holland, and Australia feared the institution
of the Emperor itself. Therefore, they insisted that to abolish emperor system,
the Emperor needed to be judged as a war criminal. MacArthur seems to have been
troubled about this very much. Therefore, MacArthur thought that the idealism
of Shidehara, the announcement of renunciation of war, need to be done as soon
as possible, and show that Japanese people do not cause war in the world and
get trusts of foreign countries, and clearly define that Emperor is a symbol of
Japan in the constitution, so we can start to keep Emperor system without the
interference of various countries. Both of them agreed that there is no other
method to keep Emperor System in Japan, so Shidehara made up his mind to accept
this draft. In addition, MacArthur tells in his autobiography Reminiscences
(1964) that the article of war renunciation was suggested by Shidehara, supporting
the opinion that Article 9 was proposed by Prime Minister Shidehara. However,
Shigeru Yoshida, who became the prime minister after Shidehara, denied this
theory in the book The Yoshida Memoirs (1957), and mentioned that General
MacArthur had declared his intentions earlier than Shidehara. (Shinya Watanabe)

 Guy Almog, from University of Haifa Department
of Asian Studies, argues “The most influential figure in the process of
creating the new Japanese constitution was undoubtedly General Douglas
MacArthur, who was appointed by President Truman as the Supreme Commander of
the Allied Powers (SCAP). It is reasonable to begin this discussion with
MacArthur, who was not only the most influential among the figures involved in
the creation of the constitution, but also the one who ultimately had the final
say in this matter as in others.” However, quite surprisingly, according to
MacArthur’s 1964 memoirs, the idea of Article 9 was actually proposed to him
before the release of his famous three notes (the so called “MacArthur
Notes”)16 by Prime Minister Shidehara Kij?r? on January 24:

Shidehara
then proposed that when the new constitution became final that it include the
so-called no-war clause. He also wanted it to prohibit any military
establishment for Japan—any military establishment whatsoever. Two things would
thus be accomplished. The old military party would be deprived of any
instrument through which they could someday seize power, and the rest of the
world would know that Japan was never intended to wage war again. He added that
Japan was a poor country and could not really afford to pour money into
armaments anyway. Whatever resources the nation had left should go to
bolstering the economy. (MacArthur, 1965) (Guy Almog, 2014)

 

Is it really a “Pacifist” constitution?

 As Guy Almog argues s in his article, assuming
Shidehara had indeed promoted this line of thought, there was nothing
“pacifist” about it, as the reasons he voiced to MacArthur did not
derive from a moral attitude that deems the participation in any war as
impermissible. The reasons he presented were much more a matter of preference
and practicality. Japan should ban “any military establishment
whatsoever” not because it was inherently immoral, but because this action
would satisfy the other nations, and at the same time prevent the former
militarist leaders who had led Japan to disaster from regaining strength. In
addition, Japan could not afford the creation of new armaments given its
wretched postwar economic condition in which 64 cities were destroyed by fire
bombing and two by nuclear bombs.

Thus,
if these were the reasons behind Shidehara’s proposal, we can safely determine
that he was not truly a “pacifist”, but rather a very practical person. This
practicality can be seen in an interview made years later with Shidehara’s son,
Michitar?, who stressed that the point of his father’s suggestion to MacArthur
was a “universal disarmament” but certainly not a “unilateral
disarmament,” since he did not dwell in “illusory idealism”
(McNelly, 2000). Indeed, who would not desire an eventual “universal
disarmament”? The road to this dream, however, seems very different in the
eyes of the pacifist and the just war theorist. Pacifism demands
“unilateral disarmament” regardless of other nations’ actions, since
it totally forbids any participation in war (and without arms, one cannot
participate in a war). Although JWT strives to eventual peace, it does not
support such notions. (Guy Almog, 2014)

 As above, we can tell Shidehara himself was a
realist and really a practical person. He considered the world situation at the
time and with all the realistic way of analsis to the world, he finally reached
his ultimate answer “article 9, the abolition of war”.

 

Was Macarthur a pacifist?

 We can even look at Macarthur ‘s
retirement speech. As follows:

“I have constantly called for
the new political decisions essential to a solution. Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said in effect
that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as
few other men now living know it, and nothing to me–and nothing to me is more
revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very
destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of
settling international disputes. Indeed, the Second Day of September, 1945, just
following the surrender of the Japanese nation on the Battleship Missouri, I
formally cautioned as follows: “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods
through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to
prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable
methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the
mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been
successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in
turn failed, leaving the only path to be ‘by way of the crucible of war. The
utter destructiveness of war now blocks out, this alternative. We have had our
last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system,
Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and
involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will
synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and
all the material and cultural developments of the past 2000 years. It must be
of the spirit if we are to save the flesh. ” But once war is forced upon
us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring
it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there can be no substitute for victory.” (Douglas Macarthur,1951)

 He pretty much predicted
everything in his retirement speech, just like he knew what’s going to happen
for the next 70 years, By his speech, we can tell that Macarthur was also
person who was having realistic point of view.

 As for MacArthur, calling him
a “pacifist” would be utterly grotesque. He was an active and
experienced general who had participated in his fair share of wars, which he
believed to be necessary and moral. MacArthur of course subsequently commanded
the United States’ troops in the Korean War until his dismissal from command by
President Truman (due to several pugnacious public statements regarding China).
In addition, MacArthur ordered (or “allowed”) the creation of the
Japanese NPR (National Police Reserve), which later became the JSDF (Japan Self Defense Force). (Guy Almog, 2014)

Conclusion

 Once I remember, my grandfather told me how important
the article 9 could be, not only for Japanese people but also for our human
society. My grandfather has been served as a member of Japanese military in Manchuria
(??).  Since
when he was still 18 years old, around 1940 to 1945. He spent all his youth in there Manchuria,
as an army, and he told me that article 9 is the crystal of blood, tears and sweats
of Japanese citizens and all the victims of the war around the world. And now,
Abe is claiming that he’s going revise the constitution by 2020. He says, it is
because the constitution, article 9, is not realistic enough and old fashion, it
doesn’t fit the time we’re living right now. And it’s the same logic for the
many pro-amendment advocates.

 However, what
if the constitution has made already in a super realistic way? Shidehara has
even said this article 9 is truly a far-seeing article. And as I mentioned
above, both Shidehara and Macarthur could be the realist. Then, how could article
9 be an “antique” “idealistic” “pacifistic” constitution that has imposed by
the US?

 I see article 9
as actually a super “modern” and “realistic” constitution that is truly far-seeing
and going way ahead of us and the world situation right now. Shidehara and
Macarthur GHQ have created article 9, because they truly believed that
abolition of war is the only realistic way to achieve peace in this world with
nuclear weapons. Shidehara mentioned this in an interview held in 1964. He claimed
the only realistic way to achieve peace and balance the world is that one
nation totally give up on military power and completely abolish any war. And start
to build international cooperation with the other nations. When we have debates
about the constitution, there are people often say that “The Japanese constitution
has imposed by the U.S.”. But if, Shidehara was actually the proposer of the
article, which I’m assuming so with all the evidences, then this argument would
be nonsense.

 Therefore, the
current article 9, I understand it as a pretty appropriate constitution for
both Japan and International society. As a reality, Japan haven’t had war for
the last 70years since the end of WW2. That is, as it is mentioned in the
constitution, we accomplish the sentence “Japanese people forever renounce war”
so far. But if, we revise the article and reform the SDF to an offensive
military, the future would be different. The realistic path Japan is walking on
now, we need to reconsider it if it’s really a “realistic” decision. Yuki Watai
from University of Warwick, mentioned in his article. “Although much depends on
the domestic political situations, Japan’ security policy will be further
expanded and enlarged through future constitutional reinterpretation or
possibly the revision – making Japan lean towards more of a neo-realist type of
behavior. If this happens, the period of the post-cold war and the time of
revising the constitutions will be characterized as ‘a slow, yet fundamental
transformation into a normal country’ with the possibility of escalated
tensions in the Asia-Pacific – the second Cold War.”  (Yuki Watai)

 Shidehara, I believe, at the time he already
knew that having “power” against “power” wouldn’t be a realistic strategy
anymore, he knew that article 9, abolition of war and international cooperation
can be the next “power” to balance this anarchy filled with nuclear weapon. Abe’s
attempt and the US’s push of this amendment movement on article 9, seems like
it is happing in a really bad and radical way, not as like after WW2 when
Shidehara and Macarthur had the agreement. It is also because of article 9, It
has been prevented japan from any war. Once, Ishibashi Tanzan the 55th Prime
Minister of Japan said, “To keep Japan’s independence and safety, if it comes
to consuming the national strength of expansion of armaments, not only can you
not fulfill national defense, but destroy the country”

In article 9, I see there’s this
very important evidence and hope that international cooperation will be the
next “realistic” power in international relations.

References

?Douglas Macarthur(1951)

https://americancenterjapan.com/aboutusa/translations/2378/#enlist

?Erik Paul  

Japan in the World: Shidehara Kijuro, Pacifism, and
the Abolition of War: A book review by Dr. Erik Paul

?Guy Almog (2014)

http://apjjf.org/2014/12/36/Guy-Almog/4177/article.html

 

?Klaus Schlichtmann (2009)

Japan
in the World: Shidehara Kijuro, Pacifism, and the Abolition of War

?Liberty of congress (Sep 29,2015) https://www.loc.gov/law/help/japanconstitution/article9.php

?Nelly, Theodore (2000)

The Origins of Japan’s
Democratic Constitution. Lanham, Md: University Press of America.

 

 

? Sharon H. Nolte (1987)

Liberalism in Modern Japan: Ishibashi Tanzan and His
Teachers, 1905-1960

 

?Shinya Watanabe

The Breakaway from the Century of War - Article 9 as the Overcoming of European Modernism

?THE WALL STREET
JOURNAL (May 8, 2017)

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/japans-constitutional-gamble-1494285810

?Yuki Watai

 http://papers.iafor.org/wp-content/uploads/papers/iicj2017/IICJ2017_35536.pdf

?Yusuke Suzumura

Logical Structure of
Ishibashi T

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