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Politics & Security

U.S.-Imposed Article 9 of the Constitution Threatens the Lives of Japanese People

Japan has no means to counter a possible Chinese invasion. Its constitution, untouched for 74 years, prevents it from establishing land, sea, and air forces.

Ryusho Kadota

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Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan has been heralded by leftists as a symbol of peace that denies Japan the right of belligerency and the right to possess land, sea, and air forces.

Ironically, Article 9 has become a threat to the very lives of the Japanese people. 

In the Midst of Drastic International Change 

The Constitution of Japan has been in effect for 74 years. It is the world’s oldest constitution in the sense that not a single word has been changed since its adoption.

Meanwhile, Germany — a country defeated in the same world war — brushed off Allied intervention and drafted its own constitution, the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, in May 1949 at a parliamentary council composed of politicians and lawyers. 

Since then, the German constitution has been amended more than 60 times in response to changes in domestic and international circumstances, in sharp contrast to Japan’s constitution, which has remained completely unchanged to this day. 

So why has the Constitution of Japan become a threat to the lives of the Japanese people?

The last 76 years since the end of World War II have seen unimaginable changes in international affairs. Moreover, the changes have become more drastic in the last 10 years, and especially in the last five. 

The reason lies in China’s attempts to alter the status quo by force. I confess that I had not been an ardent supporter of constitutional amendment until this upheaval occurred.

During the long Cold War that came after the end of World War II, the need to revise the Japanese Constitution was not as urgent as it is today. That is because the frontline of the Cold War was in Europe. 

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought on the rapid downfall of successive communist countries, and the ultimate dissolution of their leading power, the Soviet Union, from which Russia emerged.

Japan placed its security into the hands of the United States and enjoyed peace under its “nuclear umbrella” — that is, until a country emerged on the world stage to destroy the international order.

No Countermeasures Against a Chinese Invasion

Founded in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has pushed out its borders to annex Tibet, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Southern Mongolia. It has trampled on the human rights of the people of Hong Kong, and it makes no secret of its intention to invade Taiwan. 

China has turned reefs inside the exclusive economic zones of countries in the South China Sea into Chinese military bases, claimed ownership of the Senkaku Islands, and repeatedly intruded into Japan’s territorial waters on an almost daily basis.

“Take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea,” China tells its maritime forces, making it’s view clear that the Senkaku Islands are included. 

The words of its new law, which have been repeated by Chinese military leaders, are nothing but a declaration of the intent to seize the Senkaku Islands at any time. That is to say, no country in East Asia is safe from China’s threat.

RELATED: [Asia’s Next Page] China’s Coast Guard Law Tests Resilience of Maritime Asia 

It all started with the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” or the “Chinese Dream,” which President Xi Jinping has been proclaiming since 2013. His vision is to achieve global hegemony by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and is strongly linked to the Sinocentric ideology boasted by successive Chinese dynasties. For China, the ideal world revolves around the Chinese empire to which barbarians must obey and pay tribute.

The premise of the Chinese Dream is making right the injustices China perceives it suffered in its “century of humiliation” (roughly 1839-1949). The “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” can only be achieved if China dispels the humiliation that started with the Opium War, and included Western (and Japanese) concessions in its major cities, the founding of Manchuko, and continental rule by over a million foreign troops. 

It must not be forgotten that Japan is the main target of China’s resentment. And, yet, Japan has no means to counter a possible Chinese invasion, except to rely on the United States to save its neck.

Europe founded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union with the deterrent power of its collective self-defense. If a member state was attacked by the Soviet Union, it would be seen as an attack on the alliance as a whole and would provoke collective retaliation. This collective security system has protected Europe from Soviet and Russian aggression for 72 years.

A Constitution That Secures Peace Through Deterrence

Since 2000, the success or failure of becoming a NATO member has been a determining factor in the fate of several countries. The Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania successfully joined NATO despite struggling with Russian intervention. In contrast, Ukraine and Georgia failed to join NATO because of strong domestic pro-Russian sentiment and their failure to sway public opinion. 

The fate of the two countries is still fresh in my mind. Ukraine suffered the annexation of Crimea, and Georgia had two of its regions declared independent. Their situations are eerily similar to that of Japan, with China encroaching on its politics, business, and mass media.

Right to Collective Self-Defense

The right to collective self-defense to secure the peace should be used as a deterrent — not by the United States alone, but by countries forming an alliance to create an Asian version of NATO to stop China’s attempts to alter the status quo by force.

However, Japan is denied the right to collective self-defense under Article 9 of the Constitution. This is why the Constitution has become a threat to the lives of Japanese people. Acquiring the right to collective self-defense and constitutionalizing the Japan Self-Defense Forces are vital. 

With these two points in mind, I would like to offer an example of what an amendment to Article 9 of the Constitution should look like.  

With these two points in mind, I would like to offer an example of what an amendment to Article 9 of the Constitution should look like.  

[Proposed] Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, in order to maintain international peace and to protect the lives, property, and territory of its citizens, Japan shall possess the Self-Defense Forces, shall not tolerate the aggression or interference of any country, and shall maintain its independence forever.

Japan must fulfill its obligation to history to protect the lives of its families and future generations.

(Read this Sankei Seiron article in Japanese at this link.)

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Author: Ryusho Kadota

Ryusho Kadota is an author and journalist. Born in Kochi Prefecture in 1958, he graduated from the Faculty of Law at Chuo University. He is the author of many books, including bestseller Ekibyo 2020 (Sankei Shimbun Publishing, in Japanese, 2020).