By Joe White
A disturbing headline from this past weekend, “Japan to rethink pacifist constitution by 2020 amid rising tensions?” Replacing pacifism with militarism by 2020 is a painful irony for 2020 AYWW and the irony does not stop there. Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which was added following WWII, forbids the use of war to settle international disputes. That is the right direction for all nations. The article states,
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”
According to the daily, Sankei Shimbun, the constitution will be revised after Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020. So, to deepen the irony, the constitutional revision will apparently occur after Tokyo secures a unanimous vote of UN member nations to respect a global truce during the 2020 Olympic Games. This global Olympic truce, a nearly 30 year Olympic tradition of the Olympic host nation securing an Olympic global truce during the Games, had been introduced into our modern Olympic Games to reflect the ancient Greek practice of securing such a truce amongst the ever-warring Greek states. So, the Japanese government’s logic appears to be, we’ll get a global Olympic truce for the Olympic Games then we will militarize our pacifist constitution after the hopefully peaceful Games are over.
According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as present tensions throughout the region build, caused by historical territorial disputes, Japan must develop its military beyond one of simple self-defense. On the 67th anniversary of the post WW II Japanese Constitution, Prime Minister Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party are pushing to revise a constitution they see as having been imposed upon Japan following its defeat. It is not clear however, if the Japanese people would support such a militaristic change. Surveys show mixed opinions to revising the constitution with a growing opposition to the Abe government's attempt to force through the change.
According to Ken Takada, an organizer of recent protests against the elimination of the pacifist constitutional article, “We citizens must stand up, take action and raise our voice to stop Abe, or this country could return to a Japan that wages war with Asia as it has done before.” Obviously, for 2020 A Year Without War, Prime Minister Abe’s goal of an expanded militaristic constitutional revision being in place by 2020 is indeed sad irony. 2020 AYWW plans to have a prominent presence at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as the world celebrates its first designed, year-long, global cease-fire.
The great nation of Japan is obviously now moving in the wrong historical direction with regard to increasing their military and its offensiveness. Instead, Japan should be leading the world’s nations to revise their own constitutions by incorporating an appropriate version of the Japanese pacifist Article 9 into their respective constitutions. Great nations like Japan and China can take the historical lead in showing the world what 21st century conflict arbitration looks like. Japan has already agreed to arbitrate in theInternational Court of Justice its on-going dispute with Green Peace over its whale and dolphin harvests. As a result of the International Court’s judgment this past April, Japan has agreed not to hunt whales in the Antarctic Ocean this season. Please, Japan take the historical lead and help the world enter the 21st century with nations collectively disposed to arbitration rather than falling back into our dark, angry, violently self-destructive past of militarism and war.
U.S. President and WW II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower remarked,“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” 2020 AYWW supports General Eisenhower’s view by inviting the people of Japan and the world to JOIN, RECRUIT and EDUCATE. 2020 AYWW can and will move all of our governments toward a world without war as the vast majority of people desire. Let us join voices and at least start with one year, 2020.