Church concern over change to Japanese constitution war clause

By agency reporter
December 5, 2014

At the 4th Global Inter-religious Conference in Tokyo, Japan, the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed grave concern at the Japanese government’s initiative to reinterpret or change Article 9 of the Japanese constitution.

Adopted as part of the constitution in 1947, following the Second World War, the clause outlaws war as a means for Japan to resolve international disputes.

“We expect Japan to follow Article Nine. We are convinced of the power of Japan’s positive example to influence the conduct of other states,” Tveit said in his presentation titled “Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution – A Pillar for Peace in Northeast Asia and Beyond” delivered on 3 December at the Tokyo conference, which focused on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution.

Recently, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe proposed a reinterpretation allowing for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to use force alongside other national militaries.

Tveit said in his presentation, “In July this year, the Central Committee of the WCC adopted a policy position on Article 9. The Central Committee expressed its grave concern at the Japanese government’s initiative to reinterpret or change Article Nine.”

Tveit also mentioned the significant role of Article Nine for peace in Northeast Asia. He said, “Today, with East Asia emerging as a world centre, is surely the time for Article Nine to come into its own as a central pillar for peace.”

Tveit pointed out the role of religious communities in peace-building. He said, “More and more religious leaders must rally around this pillar for peace, in Asia and beyond.”

The 4th Global Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution was held at the YMCA Asia Youth Centre in Tokyo from 1 to 5 December.

Over 100 participants from various religious communities and organisations such as Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslim and worldwide church bodies and NGOs attended the conference.

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