Japanese faith groups work to keep war-renouncing constitution

By staff writers
April 28, 2006

Japanese faith groups work to keep war-renouncing constitution

-28/04/06

Thousands of Christians and people of other faith communities across Japan are petitioning legislators to halt a proposed national referendum seen as aiming to amend Japan's war-renouncing constitution, writes Hisashi Yukimoto for Ecumenical News International. The referendum is sought by Japan's ruling coalition parties.

"We strongly oppose the referendum bill that will be submitted to the Diet [parliament] during its present session term as a procedural bill for the amendment of Article 9 [the section of the constitution forbidding Japan to go to war]," said the Interfaith Unity group.

"We religious people wish to share the significance of Article 9," declared the network in its petition about the constitution drawn up by US occupying forces at the end of the Second World War.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution renounces war and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. It also denies Japan the right to have an army, air force and navy.

But the constitution has been interpreted to allow armed forces for self-defence. Japan's military is called the Self-Defense Forces. Its members are heavily prescribed in the way they can use weapons in international peace keeping missions.

In November 2005, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced a proposal to try to amend the constitution that would seek to have the Self-Defense Forces renamed as a constitutionally-declared military.

The interfaith network, established in Tokyo in 2005 to preserve the constitution as it stands, stated on 26 April that the proposed legislation is "at a crucial point" before the ruling coalition submits it for adoption during the current parliamentary session, scheduled to last until 18 June 2006.

On 27 May, the network plans a symposium at the cathedral in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto with Christian, Buddhist and other religious leaders as speakers about the need to preserve the anti-war section of the constitution.

"We should just abolish the bill. For people of faith, Article 9 of the Constitution is indispensable," said Masataka Nagasawa of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, which organises the interfaith network.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

Japanese faith groups work to keep war-renouncing constitution

-28/04/06

Thousands of Christians and people of other faith communities across Japan are petitioning legislators to halt a proposed national referendum seen as aiming to amend Japan's war-renouncing constitution, writes Hisashi Yukimoto for Ecumenical News International. The referendum is sought by Japan's ruling coalition parties.

"We strongly oppose the referendum bill that will be submitted to the Diet [parliament] during its present session term as a procedural bill for the amendment of Article 9 [the section of the constitution forbidding Japan to go to war]," said the Interfaith Unity group.

"We religious people wish to share the significance of Article 9," declared the network in its petition about the constitution drawn up by US occupying forces at the end of the Second World War.

Article 9 of the Japanese constitution renounces war and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. It also denies Japan the right to have an army, air force and navy.

But the constitution has been interpreted to allow armed forces for self-defence. Japan's military is called the Self-Defense Forces. Its members are heavily prescribed in the way they can use weapons in international peace keeping missions.

In November 2005, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced a proposal to try to amend the constitution that would seek to have the Self-Defense Forces renamed as a constitutionally-declared military.

The interfaith network, established in Tokyo in 2005 to preserve the constitution as it stands, stated on 26 April that the proposed legislation is "at a crucial point" before the ruling coalition submits it for adoption during the current parliamentary session, scheduled to last until 18 June 2006.

On 27 May, the network plans a symposium at the cathedral in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto with Christian, Buddhist and other religious leaders as speakers about the need to preserve the anti-war section of the constitution.

"We should just abolish the bill. For people of faith, Article 9 of the Constitution is indispensable," said Masataka Nagasawa of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, which organises the interfaith network.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.