The Reasons for Opposing Abe’s Constitutional Change

By Natsumi Ishisaka

The Japanese constitution was made after WWⅡ, and it is considered one of the most peaceful constitutions in the world.  However, Prime Minister Abe plans to change Article 9, because he thinks that Japan should have military power to protect itself. Abe also thinks the Japanese constitution is too old.  Some of the representatives agree with Abe.  They think Japan needs to exercise the right of collective self-defense.  There are three main reasons to oppose Abe’s constitutional change: the process is not democratic, the change may threaten peace and the Japanese constitution is an important reminder of the failures in the past.

First, Abe plans to change the Japanese constitution using an undemocratic process.  Article 96 of the Japanese constitution discusses constitutional change.  It says that “Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet, through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such election as the Diet shall specify.”(“The Constitution of Japan”) However, Abe plans to change Article 9 by the reinterpreting of the constitution. If he change the constitution by reinterpretation, he does not need to hold a national vote.  It means that Japanese nationals, the sovereign, will not have the right to choose our constitution. Takeshi Nakajima, professor of Hokkaido University, says that “reinterpretation of the constitution is a lunacy which will make Japanese constitutionalism and democracy collapse because if governments can change the constitution by itself, the constitution will be titular.”

Second, the change may threaten peace.  Abe wants to exercise the right of collective self-defense. The right of collective self-defense is the right that when a country with a close relationship to Japan is attacked, Japan can help the country by using military power even if Japan is not attacked. Norikazu Doro, the former self-defense official, claims that “it is not a right to protect Japan but the right to make a sacrifice of our soldiers for other countries.” He also says that “to intervene in the conflict between other countries means to incur unjustified resentment by the enemy country. Then Japan may be attacked by terrorists of the enemy country.  In fact, many countries which fought with the U.S. were attacked by the terrorists who oppose foreign policy.”

Third, the Japanese constitution is an important reminder of the war. The Japanese constitution was made so that Japan would never start a war again after WWⅡ.  This pacifism is introduced in the Article 9. It says that “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 means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” (“The Constitution of Japan”) There were an action to nominate Article 9 as candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. It has protected Japan for a long time from a war. However if Japan loses this constitution, there is the possibility of the war.

In conclusion, Abe plans to make changes in an undemocratic way, the change might threaten the Japanese peace and the Japanese constitution works as an important reminder of the negative impact of the war. First, Abe plans to change Article 9 by the reinterpreting of the constitution regardless of what Article 96 said. Second, if Japan exercise the right of collective self-defense, we might attacked by other countries. Third, Article 9 keeps us to avoid having a war, so if we loses it, there is the possibility of the war. There are many problems about this constitutional change; therefore, Abe should not enforce a constitutional change.  He needs to consider more convincing arguments for this change that the Japanese people can agree with.