Subverting the Japanese Peace Constitution undermines Hiroshima Day 2015 and the peace loving desires of the Japanese people


Subverting the Japanese Peace Constitution undermines Hiroshima Day 2015 and the peace loving desires of the Japanese people .

Kevin P Clements

National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Every year the people of Japan stop at 8.15 am on the 6th August to commemorate the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima . Indeed 2015 is the 70th anniversary of that tragic event and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. It’s a year for solemn remembrance and contrition ( on all sides of the war) and a year for   the Japanese people to say “Never Again” . They can only do this with moral conviction if their post war constitution is intact. This is because   the peace constitution   places a cap on defence expenditure and limits on the Government’s ability to utilise force or commit acts of military aggression. This has not resulted in any challenge to Japanese sovereignty over the last 70 years.  On the contrary most nations have respected Japanese integrity and sovereignty because of its regional and global harmlessness to others.

This year, the commemorative events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will take place but the Japanese people will not be able to say “Never again“ with the same moral legitimacy of the past. This is because the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has introduced 11 pieces of legislation which

(i) deliberately   undermine the pacifist provisions of the Constitution -against the will of the Japanese diet and the Japanese people and

(ii) enables   the government to engage in pro-active/pre-emptive aggression in the name of collective self defence.   Both of these moves are retrograde and diminish Japan’s moral and political legitimacy as a nation with a pacifist constitution and a solemn commitment not to use force in pursuit of Japanese national interests.

These legislative changes which were passed by the Diet in the absence of all opposition members of parliament, will enable Japanese corporate interests to commit more resources to developing the Japanese military industrial complex.

Indeed., Japanese state and private sector interests have already entered into contracts to build submarines for Australia and wish to join Nato’s missile building consortium.

The principle beneficiary from these legislative changes is the United States which wishes to ensure that Japan plays a a more active role in the containment of China and in the never ending fight against global terrorism. This new legislation enables Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to cooperate actively with the U.S. and other US allies in foreign military operations overseas. It enables the pre-emptive use of force which directly undermines Article 9 of the Constitution. Most importantly of all if challenges the moral reputation of post war Japan as a peace loving country .

Japan’s Constitutional commitment to an exclusively self defence posture was an important source of legitimacy for other nations seeking to change their security strategies from offensive to non-offensive. Japan’s non-offensive defence posture was important in the development of co-operative and common security doctrines towards the end of the 20th century. Japan is now winding the clock back to totally outmoded 20th century notions of offensive national defence either alone or in the company of allies.

These recent moves also problematize Japan’s capacity to utilize its SDF for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and development aid.

On top of this being a disaster for Japan’s Pacifist Constitution and reputation it is also constitutionally dubious and threatens to undermine the Japanese rule of law. There is no bi partisan support for these measures, 80% of the population oppose it and opposition members of parliament made their position clear by boycotting the vote This move, therefore, is not just a rebellion against constitutionalism, it is also a serious challenge to the value of the democratic system Japan has been developing since the end of the Second World War. A majority vote without opposition parliamentarians present represents deep contempt for parliamentary democracy.


Evert since this administration has come to power, however, there have been signs of growing contempt for democratic process. Last year, for example, the government created its own National Security Council, which makes it possible for a small number of ministers to make security policy decisions free of either public or private scrutiny. To reinforce this concentration of power the administration passed the controversial state secrets protection law which makes it extremely difficult , if not impossible for serious debate within Government and outside on national security issues.


This means that Abe now has legislation which enables the government to authorize the use of force ( anywhere in the world) without being subject to significant public or parliamentary scrutiny. These national security decisions will now be based on what Abe calls “comprehensive judgment” by the Prime Minister, his national security advisors and a small number of other Cabinet members.

The Diet has no right to challenge these decisions. Nor does the Japanese public. Over the last two years the Japanese government has imposed bans on freedom of the press, and attempted to curtail the freedom of expression of critical academics like Koichi Nakano and others. Like other allies around the world the Japanese government has also started dumbing down news reportage   by endeavoring   to control the Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) and TV Asahi, by challenging any critical commentary on the Government’s performance or election campaigns.

There have been many other worrying signs as well, e.g (i) efforts to revise Japanese History in relation to Second World War atrocities; (ii) the reassertion of nationalist acts like flag raising and anthem singing during University and other school ceremonies and (iii)   LDP prohibition of “Activities aimed at harming public interest and public order” and (iv) generating a climate of fear and intimidation in relation to threats from China and transnational terrorism.

The Prime Minister of Japan is hoping that the next generation of Japanese youth will have no recollection of the Second World War and Japanese complicity in its atrocities. He is hoping that they will be obedient to national authority and accept the remilitarization that he is initating and he is hoping that they will have no interest in being     a pacifist, non offensive, strong and morally respected nation.

Abe’s wilful subversion of the Japanese Pacifist Constitution means that all those who gather at Hiroshima and Nagasaki this year will have difficulty establishing their pacifist and anti-war legitimacy . Their pleas of “Never Again” will sound hypocritical as long as the LDP is intent on quietly reactivating  Japanese militarism and offensive military capacities.

There is no objective justification for any of these moves. The Chinese threat has been exaggerated, Japan remains relatively untouched by global terrorism and there is absolutely no need to squander moral reputation for cheap and short term political advantage. I hope the Japanese electorate will vote in large numbers at the Upper House election to challenge LDP subversion of the Constitution and basic democratic processes. I hope that the thousands who have been protesting against this legislation inside and outside of the Diet will prevail and again reassert Japan’s important moral pacifist credentials.


About kevinclements2012

Short CV Professor Kevin P Clements. I am the Foundation Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, Dunedin New Zealand and Secretary General of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy. Prior to taking up these positions I was the Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia . I went to Queensland from International Alert where I was Secretary General from January 1999 to September 2003. International Alert is one of the world’s largest NGOs working on conflict transformation. It pioneered innovative policy and practical approaches to conflict prevention and transformation in Africa ,Eurasia and Asia . It has also made a major contribution to the mainstreaming of conflict prevention within European Foreign and Development Ministries, the EU and a variety of UN institutions. During his time there I was on the Board of the European Centre for Conflict Prevention and past President of the European Peace Building Liaison Office in Brussels. Prior to becoming Secretary General of International Alert I was the Vernon and Minnie Lynch Chair of Conflict Resolution at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University Fairfax Virginia USA 1994-2000 and Director of the Institute from 1994-1999. My career has been a combination of academic analysis and practice in the areas of peacebuilding and conflict transformation. I was, for example, formerly Director of the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva and Head of the Peace Research Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra .Prior to this I was Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Coordinator of Peace Studies at Canterbury University, Christchurch New Zealand . My first academic position was as a lecturer in Sociology at Hong Kong University . I took up this position from a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Oxford University where I worked on development issues with Paul Streeten and others. I have been an advisor to the New Zealand, Australian , British , Swedish and Dutch governments on conflict prevention , peace, defence and security issues and advised the German Government and the OECD on States and Violence. I was, a member of the New Zealand Government’s Defence Committee of Enquiry in 1985 and I currently conducting Problem Solving Workshops in North East Asia with high level participants from Japan, China and Korea. Iwas President of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) from 1994-1998, President of the IPRA Foundation from 1995-2000 and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association. I was Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association 2008-2010. I got my B.A, B.A Hon ( First Class) and Ph.D in Sociology from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand. and held a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Oxford from 1970-1971. I have been a regular consultant to a variety of non governmental and intergovernmental organisations on disarmament, arms control, conflict resolution, development and regional security issues and I have written or edited 7 books and over 160 chapters /articles on conflict transformation, peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and development with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region. Research Expertise 1. Peace Research Theory- Conflict and Conflict Resolution Theory . Preventive Diplomacy , Development and Peacebuilding 2. International and Regional Regimes-APEC, ASEAN, the ARF, ECOWAS 3. Political Sociology-International Organisations. Multilateral/bilateral negotiating processes. 4. Fragile States, Legitimacy and Political Hybridity 5. Alternative Defence and Security Policies-Peace and Security in the Asia-Pacific region. 6. The politics and ethics of international humanitarian intervention 7. Altruism and Compassion In my spare time I like to paint with acrylics or pastels, go to the theatre, listen to classical music, visit art galleries etc!
This entry was posted in Freedom of Speech, Japanese Democracy at risk, Japanese Militarism, Japanese Peace Constitution, North East Asian Security, Offensive defence strategies, Pacifism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Subverting the Japanese Peace Constitution undermines Hiroshima Day 2015 and the peace loving desires of the Japanese people

  1. Alistair McKee says:

    Thankyou Kevin for this important alert of great interesttand concern as we try to dampen the “strategic competitor” response to the PRC announce by President “Baby” Bush around 2000. Tomorrow in Wellington we protest the TPPA: not in our name!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes Abe is bad on nuclear power, nuclear weapons and militarism generally!


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